My colleague and I were definitely excited to receive a copy of Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games *And What Parents Can Do by Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson when it arrived on the hold shelf. It’s probably not just a coincidence either that the book was released in the same month that Grand Theft Auto IV, the game was.
Ars Technica has a short review of the book here. The book has got some great information applicable to libraries, especially dialogues that can be encouraged to take place with parents and their kids as well as librarians and their patrons (the section on online games that kids might run across and how to initiate conversation about them).
The book is also helpful in how to look at the research out on video games. The next time a teen wants to write a paper about video games, you might consider steering them in the direction of this book as a guide on how they can make whatever argument it is they want about video games. This book does a good job at looking at the studies on violence and video games and what do their results really mean.
Even if video games aren’t something you are particularly interested, there are a lot of parallels to the legislation and discussion we see around banning access to social networking. In this case, media violence increasing aggression and like social networking-as places that somehow increase danger to kids and that knee-jerk reactions in decision making can actually cover up the underlying issues that never get resolved or discussed.
There are no easy answers, but this book helps open up the conversation. Feel free to share your thoughts. Look for Beth Gallaway’s post on the ALA Gaming blog coming soon!