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Katy Grimes

Are Today’s School Shooters Yesterday’s Medicated Video Game Addicts?

Since the 1999 school shooting in Columbine, CO, it appears that a typecast of the shooters has emerged: teen boys who are depressed, isolated, medicated, jilted, have absentee or divorced parents, and play violent video games.

The latest school shooter opened fire at Santa Fe High School in Texas on last Friday, killing 10 and wounding 13. Police arrived on scene and engaged in a 30-minute shootout. The shooter targeted and murdered a teen girl who rebuffed his advances.

The media has engaged in non-stop reporting on this. The media was still reporting on the Parkland, Fla., Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February, when Friday’s shooting happened. It’s as if the media’s incessant reporting is encouraging more demented teen boys to emulate the previous shooter.

Where Are the Parents?

I was that mean mom who enforced house rules, curfews, constant communication (including giving me a kiss goodnight when they got home as a breath check), no closed bedroom doors, no expectation of privacy, and I wouldn’t let my kids (boys) play video games. I would not let Nintendo in my house. And I held fast. Magically, both boys didn’t hate me.

A busybody relative thought I was so draconian, she defied me and gave our youngest son a Nintendo gaming set for Christmas one year. I immediately confiscated it, and the game was only allowed out on rare occasions.

When the youngest was in first grade at a hoity-toity private school, he repeatedly got in trouble “for being squirrelly in the PE line.” I kid you not. We pulled him out of that school and put him in one with regular recesses and sports, where he could run around and sweat several times a day. His first grade teacher would have preferred we put him on Ritalin.

I was often mocked by some friends for being that “strict” mom; they told me to lighten up. Television in our house was also monitored. The boys had to ask to watch it. And we all decided what would be watched.

I am not running for ‘Mother of the Year,’ but am sharing this because even without all of today’s empirical evidence, kids, and particularly boys, are especially at risk after sitting in front of screens for hours on end – and doubly so if they’ve been playing violent computer games.

With the most recent school shooting dominating the news, access to firearms is not the problem but, isolation, and violent computer games, television and movies, and prescribed psychological medications likely are.  Too many kids are on prescribed drugs, which serve to make them feel nothing. No anxiety. No high energy. No happiness. No sorrow. They are flatlined. Yet all of these feelings are important; we must learn to deal with what life throws at us. And I venture to say it’s not easy for anyone.

“The problem that we’ve got is we’re trying like the dickens to treat the symptom without treating the disease,” Oliver North, President of the National Rifle Association said. “And the disease in this case isn’t the Second Amendment. The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence.”

Psychology Today reported:

“Multiple studies have shown atrophy (shrinkage or loss of tissue volume) in gray matter areas (where “processing” occurs) in internet/gaming addiction (Zhou 2011(link is external)Yuan 2011(link is external)Weng 2013(link is external),and Weng 2012(link is external)). “Areas affected included the important frontal lobe, which governs executive functions, such as planning, planning, prioritizing, organizing, and impulse (“getting stuff done”). Volume loss was also seen in the striatum, which is involved in reward pathways and the suppression of socially unacceptable impulses. A finding of particular concern was damage to an area known is the insula, which is involved in our capacity to developempathy and compassion for others and our ability to integrate physical signals with emotion. Aside from the obvious link to violent behavior, these skills dictate the depth and quality of personal relationships.”

How many times have you seen a family in a restaurant having dinner, with a fussy toddler, tired of sitting? He starts to whine loudly and jump on his seat. So, the parents hands over an iPhone, or pulls an iPad out of the bag. The child quiets down immediately, as if drugged.

“Excessive exposure to screens (television, tablets, smartphones, computers, and video game consoles), especially at early ages, has been associated with lower academic performance, increased sleep problems, obesity, behavior problems, increased aggression, lower self-esteem. depression, and increased high risk behaviors, including sexual activity at an earlier age,” the American College of Pediatricians reports.

When I was growing up, I had friends who when asked what their favorite subject in school was, said “recess.” However, recess has been cut in far too many schools. Locker room showers in middle schools are unused and have become storage areas. Female teachers have reported how much they hate the smell of sweaty boys in their classrooms, as justification for getting rid of recesses.

There are many reasons these school shooters choose to do what they do. But we can’t ignore that they have many characteristics in common, including being brought up on violent video games, television and movies, and have serious social and psychological problems.

Most disturbing however, is how the psychological and medical community has used our kids as social and medical experiments. Socially awkward, unhappy and depressed children are medicated rather than counseled. They are prescribed psychological drugs rather than putting them in sports, clubs, music, art or assisting them in finding something of interest in which they can personally grow and learn to deal with life and other people.

I wanted my boys to participate in sports, play outside with friends, run around, pretend, play war, sweat, and get themselves exhausted. I also wanted them to learn to love to read.

Both boys are now adults and both have actually thanked me for my no-video-games policy. They are both college graduates. The older one, now a real estate agent, admitted he would have been a Nintendo addict. The younger one is a special ops Naval officer, and is a voracious reader and researcher. Both are also astute with computers and technology. They were hardly deprived of computer access.

Today’s political correctness is on steroids thanks to the left and Democrats who politicize everything. We are not allowed to listen to our Spidey-sense and question anyone’s odd proclivities, weirdness, social awkwardness, obsessive and even dangerous behavior… until a crime is committed.


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