Adam Lanza was obsessed with his weight!
Violence in the Media!
Can you imagine? Someone has been sitting through violent movies and counting how many deaths happen in each movie and developing a study to see if violence in movies has been on the rise? And while it’s a no brainer that the answer is yes, they did the work to prove it! As many of us have seen, people are desensitized by the violence they see in movies, video games and exposure to guns.
On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including 20 children, before committing suicide.
In their struggle to understand why this tragedy occurred, public figures drew attention to the fact that Lanza was an avid video game player. He played video games that glorify violence like “Grand Theft Auto” and “Call of Duty.” From there, pundits asked the larger question: are video games making kids violent?
We hear reports of men and women screaming in the street and people opening their windows and watching; people taking no action, not even to call 911. Is it out of fear or out of a state of numbness? And what is worse, taking pictures instead of calling 911! We are mesmerized as a society and it’s hard for us to process that this is real and not a movie! Sadly, we are so unaffected and desensitized by all the violence in movies, on television and cable, that the industry has had to raise the level of violence in order to obtain the desired effect. The Pre-frontal cortex is where we process our thoughts. The amygdala is where we process our feelings; in effect, this is where we process the emotions created by the thoughts that come into our frontal lobe via our senses. (This is where the term and the medical procedure comes from: Frontal Lobotomy: they cut away the frontal lobe where thinking and processing begins. Ex. The movie, “One flew over The cuckoo’s Nest”.)
Violence in Video Games!
Here is a scary fact: More than 90 percent of kids play video games, and more than 90 percent of games rated E10+ or above contain violence. What impact does this have on young children? What about our society?
Does violence in entertainment, in the media (movies, television, cable) and within computer games affect how we see violence in the news? The following is an excerpt from a recently published article on some very important research!
“Research lead by a pair of Iowa State University psychologists has proven for the first time that exposure to violent video games can desensitize individuals to real-life violence.
The Iowa study tested 257 college students (124 men and 133 women) individually. (I said men and women! I have seen grown adults in late thirties and forties and even older men and women playing these computer games). After taking baseline physiological measurements on heart rate and galvanic skin response — and asking questions to control for their preference for violent video games and general aggression — participants played one of eight randomly assigned violent or non-violent video games for 20 minutes. The four violent video games were Carmageddon, Duke Nukem, Mortal Kombat or Future Cop; the non-violent games were Glider Pro, 3D Pinball, 3D Munch Man and Tetra Madness.
After playing a video game, a second set of five-minute heart rate and skin response measurements were taken. Participants were then asked to watch a 10-minute videotape of actual violent episodes taken from TV programs and commercially-released films in the following four contexts: courtroom outbursts, police confrontations, shootings and prison fights. Heart rate and skin response were monitored throughout the viewing.
The physical differences
When viewing real violence, participants who had played a violent video game experienced skin response measurements significantly lower than those who had played a non-violent video game. The participants in the violent video game group also had lower heart rates while viewing the real-life violence compared to the nonviolent video game group.
“The results demonstrate that playing violent video games, even for just 20 minutes, can cause people to become less physiologically aroused by real violence,” said Carnage. “Participants randomly assigned to play a violent video game had relatively lower heart rates and galvanic skin responses while watching footage of people being beaten, stabbed and shot than did those randomly assigned to play nonviolent video games.
“It appears that individuals who play violent video games habituate or ‘get used to’ all the violence and eventually become physiologically numb to it.” (Carnage,Anderson, & Ferlazzo, July 2006)
Their paper reports that past research — including their own studies — documents that exposure to violent video games increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal and aggressive behaviors, and decreases helpful behaviors. Previous studies also found that more than 85 percent of video games contain some violence, and approximately half of video games include serious violent actions. A copy of the paper is available at: http://www.public.iastate.edu/~vasser/pubs/06CAB.pdf.)
“The results demonstrate that playing violent video games, even for just 20 minutes, can cause people to become less physiologically aroused by real violence.” (Nicholas Carnage, PhD)
“In short, the modern entertainment media landscape could accurately be described as an effective systematic violence desensitization tool,” he said. “Whether modern societies want this to continue is largely a public policy question, not an exclusively scientific one.”
“Several features of violent video games suggest that they may have even more pronounced effects on users than violent TV programs and films,” said Carnage.
Adam Lanza, Mass Murderer
The Newtown investigation documents (Barclay, 2014) revealed one of Lanza’s teachers was profoundly rattled by his obsessive writings — particularly a series of 10-page essays focused on “battles, destruction and war.” This article, published weeks after the shooting in Sandy Hook, stated some important information. “The most stunning item was a family snapshot of Lanza as a toddler, holding a gun to his mouth while clad in camouflage and an ammunition belt across his tiny lap (see this picture below).
And can you believe this: The Connecticut State Police have submitted a number of documents to the press. “A second document named “tomorrow” included the 6-foot, 112-pound Lanza’s thoughts on staying thin and a list of personal goals. (I know my kids will have a field day with this piece of information!) The article quoted from a Connecticut news source and further reports that Lanza had a compulsive disorder that included changing his socks as many as 20 times a day leading to his mother having to do as many as three loads of laundry daily. In short, this was a sick twenty year old boy. He is one example of how our society raises children with guns and video games and violence. Many years ago, his fifth grade teacher reported his class writings to the principle. Are we so numb that nothing was done about it or are we afraid of hurting parents feelings?
For myself, I turned off Netflix this morning and my cable has been off for months. I will, daily, endeavor to stop the GIGO (garbage in & garbage out) of my brain. My children were not allowed to watch television as they will tell you. Until they were in kindergarten, they were allowed to watch Mr. Rogers and Little House on the Prairie and then one or two movies together on the weekends as a family. Computer games were also limited to Mario Brothers. I’m not suggesting I was a model mother because I was not. I’m so glad I raised my children before cell phones, Ipads, and such.
It’s troubling to read these things, to be sure. It is my hope that as a society we can grow from the information we are gaining. Where are we heading? What will we do differently? Will any new laws arise out of Sandy Hook, CT or will we just go on as if nothing happened? How many school shootings will it take? And will more and more parents home-school their children for safety reasons? There are so many questions that arise from this information. The answer, again, can begin with prayer!
My Creator, show me my small part. Help me to be responsible and an example to others. Let change begin with me and my decision to not support, in any way, an industry of media and visual violence. Lord, give me strength to stand firm and follow through, one day at a time: turning off Netflix, cable, and walking away from red box and movie theatres. It means saying no to so many avenues of exposure to violence. All things are possible through Christ, which strengthens me!’ (Philippians 4:13)