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Since the 1960s, society overall has become much more lenient on many different issues. Before the 60s, people were shunned if they cursed in public. Now itís not uncommon to see someone on national TV say the "a" or "d" words. Violence also wasn't a very important issue in the 60s, but now it's everywhere you look. In many major cities, it's normal to view violence on the nightly news!

Every generation tries to look at itself and see what parts of life could be changed for the better. There's usually going to be some certain thing that's blamed, at the time, for "society's breakdown." In the 60s, it was rock music! Nothing was worse than a man who swung his hips on national TV! Clothes, protests, bellbottoms, acid rock, and disco, and many other things were to blame for the problems of the 70s. Though the 80s didn't have nearly as many problems as the previous two decades, the problems it did have were blamed on television. The idiot box was supposedly one of the causes of the drug problems, increased violence, and general 'slacker' attitude of teenagers.

Now that the 90s are almost at a close, we're starting to pick apart what went wrong in our generation. The buzz word of the 90s has been technology since so many new things were invented in this decade. Of course, some of these things have been branded as evil, just like rock 'n roll and disco before them. I can name one of the big things that you've probably heard about before in a negative light: video games.

Yes, video games have been called the scourge of the 1990s. Games such as Mortal Kombat, Diablo, and Night Trap reportedly have desensitized our nation's youth to violence, as well as kept them begging to stay up past their bed times "just ten more minutes!" They've also been shrugged off as being nothing more than a cheap money-making scam that isn't much more than a technology-driven comic book.

One situation where video games have been a scapegoat was the Jonesboro, Arkansas, shootings. One city official stated that he thought video games were to blame for the way the two boys acted. Apparently both kids were avid video game fans and it made sense, in this official's mind, that those games encouraged violence to brew in the boys.

Although this explanation sounds like a reason to ban video games from toy store shelves, people usually overlook a simple fact. Very strange behavior, whether it be playing too many video games, having an obsession with guns, or watching too much TV, usually stems from a bigger, more important problem. In some places in the south, guns are used from an early age on, and people who think "outside the box" usually get treated like an alien.

You may think I'm trying to say that video games had no influence on the Jonesboro kids' behavior at all. You're pretty much right. If you remember back in the early 90s, the big stir was violent cartoons. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was drawing all kinds of attention and news articles because it had cartoons doing realistic violence. I am proud to say that I thought the Ninja Turtles were awesome! Maybe I still do...But I am proof that television in your childhood won't always influence you later on in life. I've never really had the urge to jump kick someone I didn't like, and I've never wielded a katana blade!

Of course, I know that things like video games, TV shows, etc. that mean well don't always come off as that. Sometimes they will influence a kid or teenager to do something they'll regret later. To that end, I think the best way these things can be prevented is from smart parenting.

I know, I'm starting to just sound like some guy who'd give a seminar down at the Radisson Inn, but it's true. If one of the parents would've sat down with the boys early on in life and told them that guns are not toys and they shouldn't touch them unless an adult is around, the shooting might've been avoided. We can't forget that the teens who did this are responsible for their own actions. Even a kid who's eleven years old knows that opening fire on another human is wrong. So what's the explanation for them doing something like that? A mixture of the issues I already talked about, plus things that just are unexplainable.

After reading this article, some people may want to tap dance on my head for saying some of the things I said. Remember, though, that this is an 'opinion' column, and that means it's my opinion, not necessarily yours or anyone else's. Of course, I do not take any responsibility for anything my article influences someone to do...hmmmm...

Note to Frederic Smith:

Sorry that I was a day late...kinda forgot on Saturday since I was at the Germans from Russia conference for part of the day. Whoops! Anyway, hope you enjoy!

Karl Becker

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