How Violence in Digital Media Causes Mass Shootings

Police Response

A New Normal

In an unfortunate turn of events, the US experienced two mass shootings within 24 hours, which some politicians will undoubtedly use as an excuse to reignite the debate on violence in digital media. Before I add fuel to the fire, let’s state the obvious. My heart goes out to those affected by the events that transpired in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton. Although, I’m sure those affected by the events that occurred are tired of “hearts and condolences” sound bites, and instead, would like to see action taken. Believe it or not, that’s something with which I can help.

Gun Pointed

The object of this post is not to argue the finer points of scientific studies on the correlations between violent media and society. Instead, I think we can all agree; there’s no perfect amount of violence for any media platform; it will always be a matter of taste, and “there’s no accounting for taste.” The objective of this post is relay information on actionable items we can undertake to end this part of the gun violence debate.

While the tech industry hasn’t recently done much to swing public opinion in their favor, when it comes to content control, they got it right. As someone without kids, I’ve always had a strangely keen interest in the subject of parental controls. I always find myself having emotional conversations with parents who claim we haven’t done enough to help them limit what their kids watch. On the other hand, history documents overwhelming responses whenever outsiders criticize the industry on the subject.

Industry Accommodations

Fortnite Player

Since there seems to be such low awareness regarding the amount of control modern devices enable over content, let’s discuss some of the industry’s key elements.

– Parental Controls – limit the type of content that users can access on digital devices. It’s become a generic term to describe the limitations imposed through a variety of applications and systems. You can find control settings in the Play Store, App Store, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, and Playstation 3, Apple TV, and Roku, to name a few.

– V-chip – is a system designed to limit the type of content viewers can watch on television based on its content rating. The chip has been mandatory in all television sets since 2000 and remains one of the most underutilized features of all time.

– Content Rating Systems – “rate the suitability of tv, broadcasts, movies, comic books, or video games to its audience.” When used in conjunction with parental control systems, they effectively block audiences from viewing content which may not be suitable for them.

In summary, the tech sector has delivered all the components necessary for completing a functioning system, enabling individuals to make informed decisions about the content they access. I admit, they could step up their training and outreach programs about the availability of these features, but one thing they can’t control is participation.

Ultimately, it will be up to us to take the time out of our busy days to learn how to implement these controls on our devices. That accountability always lies with us; there is no one to point fingers at regarding our own responsibilities.

The Content Control Challenge (CCC)

We’re at the part where we attempt to start positive change. Instead of correlating some random act with a good cause, I’m going to try to create a challenge where the actions taken during the challenge have a direct effect on the problem. The challenge is called the Content Control Challenge, it’s on our Facebook page right now, and it requires everyone to set up content controls on at least one of their digital devices. Here’s how to participate.

– Take a photo or screenshot of parental controls screen on the device you’re setting it up.

– Post the picture to Facebook and mention the name of the device

– Tag 5 people you know to take the challenge and raise awareness around content control.

We’ll start…