Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘violence

I do not think much of the original tweeted CNA article that painted youth with a broad brush, so I am not linking to it. Instead I highlight the response above.

Some news outlets seem to confuse anecdotes with data. A video that goes viral is not necessarily an indicator of a trend in youth violence.

To be fair, the writer of the article was able to cite statistics and the work of other sociologists. But we also have no idea if the statistic is high or low — what does “five bullying incidents for every 1,000 secondary school students” mean? 

How exactly was that statistic derived? What sort of bullying was included? How does one include or exclude a behaviour as bullying? What threshold is worrying and why?

The writer also chose to blame the usual bogeyman called social media. This is amorphous, convenient, and clickbaity — all the properties that seem to appeal to news editors and agencies that need fast food fillers for uncritical consumers.

The tweet I highlighted had a valid critique: Why not focus on other age groups who have viral video recordings of their violence? But it is a superficial one that amounts to a retort of: I know I am, but how about you?

Such a taunt goes nowhere. A deeper and reflective critique of the article, how it was written and edited, and why it was shared in the first place lead us to more thoughtful spaces.

It is difficult to process the news on the two most recent mass shootings in the USA.

Video source

It is just as difficult to read how Republican Politicians on Fox News Blame Video Games for Latest Mass Shootings.

If you understand the basics of politics there, you know how the NRA, a powerful gun lobby, has loaded guns to the heads and loaded wallets to the pockets of some politicians. So these politicians deflect blame.

What is worse is that they propagate ignorance of the facts. Facts like gun violence is a multi-pronged issue. Facts like how other countries that do not allow gun ownership but allow “violent” video games do not have as many (or even any) mass shootings.

Video source

For the record, the differences in gamers and the nature of games matter first. Politicians who seek to deflect instead of following the research and doing the right thing have their interests in mind, not anyone else’s.

The smoking gun might look like violent video games. The ones who actually help pull the trigger are cowardly and greedy people.

This video with the clickbait title follows the Betteridge Law. This is any headline asked as a question that can be answered no.

Video source

The answers are more nuanced. After reviewing some research, Hank Green concluded by pointing out that the differences of gamers and the nature of games mattered first.

Something similar could be asked of and answered about any technology enhanced or enabled process, e.g., do iPads improve grades, does access to social media harm socialisation, do algorithms boost teaching?

The nature of people and what they do matters. Let’s not be tricked by the press squeezing the low-hanging fruit and vendors leveraging on what you do not know.

Just as video games do not cause the type of violence you read about in newspaper headlines, the good that you see in technology-mediated interventions are not the due to technology alone. It is part of a socio-technical system and the social part is too rich and complex to have a simple answer.

I expected that STonline would lead with a headline like Video games linked to aggressive behaviour in kids says Singapore study.

But I found it interesting that when tweeted it read:

An editor might argue that there is only so much space for a headline. But the tweet was so much more informative.

The non-paywall and longer article is at Reuters and it is titled Violent video games may be tied to aggressive thoughts.

STonline cites the findings as aggressive behaviour while Reuters choose aggressive thoughts. STonline leaves much of the critique of the study out while Reuters leaves more of it intact.

So why the difference? If you do not read widely or critically, what conclusions are you likely to draw?


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