In the last days, the riots in London and other cities in Great Britain have of course been a big topic on the news all over the world. It started in London and then spread over the country. After the death of man in Tottenham, the riots started as protest against police or government. It turned however when more and more young people and many teenagers joined the mob. They walked through the cities in the night and started wildly damaging shops, setting cars and houses on fire, breaking windows and stealing whatever they could get out of shops. Eye witnesses of different cities tell how they saw young children in between the age of 10 to 17 among the rioters and looters. They don’t do it to protest against the police, they are having fun!
When I read this, I have to wonder how these children and teenagers think that this is fun. They are not really criminal people. They don’t have a history of crime with the police, many of those who have been arrested are in touch with the police for the first time. How come they go out in the night and start robbing stores, walking around in town, laughing and shouting in the midst of chaos?
Some time ago I wrote about video games and asked my friends what they thought of video games and violence. Several of my friends did not agree with my point of view that violent video games encourage violence in real life. They argued that it was fiction, an unreal world, and children have an outlet for their anger and violence by shooting others on the screen. They told me this would prevent them from being violent in real life. I cannot really agree when I see what is going on in Great Britain right now.
I know many will not agree with me now, if I say that those violent video games have encouraged teenagers to participate in the riots in the UK. I believe however that those video games taught the children that violence and rioting is fun! They see what is happening and they feel that this is their chance to go out and have some real fun, not only on screen! They can now, in the anonymity of the crowd, go out and break or steal other people’s property. It is not anymore only a video game, it has become a real game! They feel secure when they are in a group and are out of control. They are not afraid of the police or legal punishment, although the government does whatever they can.
My problem is not the video games. I am not fond of sitting in front of a screen with a fictive world, playing games, but if people like it, I don’t mind. What I mind though is that violence is enhanced and advocated through video games. Why do these games teach that violence, beating, murder and more is fun? They learned how it should look like when you break into a store and when they see that it works, they get greedy and steal mobile phones, game consoles, electronics and more. I think violent video games have encouraged teenagers to see this all as fun! The makers of these games are also responsible for the attitude that such violence and destruction could be fun and an enjoyable thing to do.
Another very important thought is this: what about the parents? Where are they? What do they think their children are doing outside in the middle of the night? Are they unaware that their teenage kids are committing such crimes? It seems like in movies or books where the author has created a world where children take over control. Don’t these parents have any influence on their children? It is very shocking to see that obviously many parents are not able or don’t care to keep their children away from rioting!
Violence has become fun for many. It is not about political statements or giving a message to police and government. It is fun for them. How did we let this happen?