U.S. population consumes much media violence.
Youths between the ages of 8 and 18 spend more than 40 hr per
week using some type of media, not counting school or homework
assignments (Rideout, Foehr, Roberts, & Brodie, 1999).
Television is most frequently used, but electronic video games
are rapidly growing in popularity. About 10% of children aged
2 to 18 play console and computer video games more than 1 hr
per day (Rideout et al., 1999). Among 8- to 13-year-old boys,
the average is more than 7.5 hr per week (Roberts, Foehr, Rideout,
& Brodie, 1999).
College students also play lots of video games. The Cooperative
Institutional Research Program (1998, 1999) found that in
1998, 13.3% of men entering college played at least 6 hr per
week as high school seniors. By 1999, that figure had increased
to 14.8%. Furthermore, 2% of the men reported playing video
games more than 20 hr per week in 1998. In 1999, that figure
increased to 2.5%.
Although the first video games emerged in the late 1970s,
violent video games came of age in the 1990s, with the killing
games Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, and Wolfenstein 3D. In
all three games, the main task is to maim, wound, or kill opponents.
The graphics (e.g., blood) and sounds (e.g., screams) of
these games were cutting-edge at the time of their introduction.
By the end of the 20th century, even more graphically violent
games became available to players of all ages (Walsh, 1999).
Numerous educational, nonviolent strategy, and sports games
exist, but the most heavily marketed and consumed games are
violent ones. Fourth-grade girls (59%) and boys (73%) report
that the majority of their favorite games are violent ones
(Buchman & Funk, 1996).
Another problem involves the lack of parental oversight.
Teens in grades 8 through 12 report that 90% of their parents
never check the ratings of video games before allowing their purchase,
and only 1% of the teens’ parents had ever prevented a