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Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth…

Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and…

by Lawrence Kutner

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This is a fascinating read. I don't know how people of the opposite viewpoint would react to this, but I'm pretty sure anyone who is worried about the topic would be comforted by all the research these people have put together. I never considered video games a threat to children, but all of the research and data in this book really reinforces it.

Some of it can be pretty hefty and difficult to get through, but they use lots of great examples and simple statistics that are not only easy to understand, but have basis in fact. They evaluate pros and cons of video games and all of the associated topics, also being sure to address many issues of research: such as cause vs. causality, etc. etc. As an avid gamer and researcher, I was very impressed (and interested).

Highly recommend to anyone invested in video game culture and politics, or even just the effect of video games on the human psyche. ( )
  BrynDahlquis | Apr 4, 2016 |
Reading this last summer helped convince me that video games are not going to kill my kid or turn him into a terrorist. It debunked almost all of my preconceptions, and I enjoyed learning much about the history of the public's overreaction to everything including the Great Train Robbery (for reals). It also provided needed insight into some of the stuff my students are doing, how it's really affecting or not affecting them, and how to look at the studies of the past 10 years (the ones mentioned in the media) more critically. The impression this book gave me is that if a politician is quoting any study, it's probably not reliable anyway (politicians don't read results of studies that are done well, as they're published in esoteric journals). ( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 10, 2015 |
Reviewed by Cat for TeensReadToo.com

Violent, sexually explicit video games are corrupting today's youth! Our children are becoming desensitized, isolated, warmongering zombies and we need look no further than the game box for inciting influences behind such incidents as Columbine, Paducah, and Virginia Tech. Today's children are more aggressive, sexually active at younger ages, and even more foul-mouthed than ever before thanks to the rampant societal disintegration promoted in games like Grand Theft Auto, Vice City, and S.W.A.T.

Well...not exactly.

According to GRAND THEFT CHILDHOOD co-authors and social scientists, Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl K. Olson, there aren't enough up-to-date, clearly defined studies to make any determinations about the effects of graphic video games on children's behavior. Most data cited by public officials, watchdog organizations, and the media is at best inaccurate supposition which fans the flame of societal panic and ultimately diverts attention from the real issues.

Kutner and Olson give a thorough context to their study, laying out the details, methods of investigation, inherent shortcomings, and need for further research, all in an informative, straightforward manner. The information can be a little dense to slog through at times, with the authors packing quite a bit of information into one book. (Everything from a brief history regarding previous research studies -- or, rather, lack thereof; the attributes and flaws of the game industry's current rating system; to an in-depth recounting of their own study's results).

That being said, I am the first person to jump ship when it comes to dry recitations of scientific data, but not once did I consider abandoning GRAND THEFT CHILDHOOD. I found it an invaluable, thought-provoking treasure trove of information which any concerned parent or gaming teen would do well to read. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 11, 2009 |
An excellent book that gives a balanced picture of what parents and society should be concerned about when it comes to video games, violence, and children. Myths and lies are exposed, underlying truths are revealed, and the writers cover the topic thoroughly. Every parent should read this book. ( )
  lmmvirago | Jul 21, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743299515, Hardcover)

Listening to pundits and politicians, you'd think that the relationship between violent video games and aggressive behavior in children is clear. Children who play violent video games are more likely to be socially isolated and have poor interpersonal skills. Violent games can trigger real-world violence. The best way to protect our kids is to keep them away from games such as Grand Theft Auto that are rated M for Mature. Right?

Wrong. In fact, many parents are worried about the wrong things!

In 2004, Lawrence Kutner, PhD, and Cheryl K. Olson, ScD, cofounders and directors of the Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health and Media, began a $1.5 million federally funded study on the effects of video games. In contrast to previous research, their study focused on real children and families in real situations. What they found surprised, encouraged and sometimes disturbed them: their findings conform to the views of neither the alarmists nor the video game industry boosters. In Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth about Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do, Kutner and Olson untangle the web of politics, marketing, advocacy and flawed or misconstrued studies that until now have shaped parents' concerns.

Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all prescription, Grand Theft Childhood gives the information you need to decide how you want to handle this sensitive issue in your own family. You'll learn when -- and what kinds of -- video games can be harmful, when they can serve as important social or learning tools and how to create and enforce game-playing rules in your household. You'll find out what's really in the games your children play and when to worry about your children playing with strangers on the Internet. You'll understand how games are rated, how to make best use of ratings and the potentially important information that ratings don't provide.

Grand Theft Childhood takes video games out of the political and media arenas, and puts parents back in control. It should be required reading for all families who use game consoles or computers.

Almost all children today play video or computer games. Half of twelve-year-olds regularly play violent, Mature-rated games. And parents are worried...

"I don't know if it's an addiction, but my son is just glued to it. It's the same with my daughter with her computer...and I can't be watching both of them all the time, to see if they're talking to strangers or if someone is getting killed in the other room on the PlayStation. It's just nerve-racking!"

"I'm concerned that this game playing is just the kid and the TV screen...how is this going to affect his social skills?"

"I'm not concerned about the violence; I'm concerned about the way they portray the violence. It's not accidental; it's intentional. They're just out to kill people in some of these games."

What should we as parents, teachers and public policy makers be concerned about? The real risks are subtle and aren't just about gore or sex. Video games don't affect all children in the same way; some children are at significantly greater risk. (You may be surprised to learn which ones!) Grand Theft Childhood gives parents practical, research-based advice on ways to limit many of those risks. It also shows how video games -- even violent games -- can benefit children and families in unexpected ways.

In this groundbreaking and timely book, Drs. Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson cut through the myths and hysteria, and reveal the surprising truth about kids and violent games.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:08 -0400)

Draws on groundbreaking studies to address key issues pertaining to the influence of video game violence on young people, offering insight into the allure of games while counseling parents on how to recognize a problem.

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