Kyle Rittenhouse and Violent Video Games

What possessed Kyle Rittenhouse, a baby-faced 17-year-old, to pick up an AR-15 style rifle and head to Kenosha, Wisconsin in the first place?

There has been a lot of discussion about the harm caused by social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to American youth but very little discussion about the role of violent videogames, where teens arm themselves with massive weaponry to maim and kill.

Rittenhouse claims he and a friend volunteered to go to Kenosha to protect a car dealership that was set upon by rioters the night before. Rittenhouse, who is now a nursing student, wore a medical kit and said he intended to provide medical care. At one point he also carried a fire extinguisher.

It all seems hopelessly naïve, but not altogether implausible for a 17-year-old teenager, especially one who testified Wednesday to playing violent video games.

Rittenhouse ended up killing two men and grievously wounding a third. He’s claiming self-defense.  Cell phone videos of the action that evening in Kenosha show Rittenhouse lying on the pavement, while protesters/rioters attacked him and attempted to wrestle the gun away from him. The only reason they didn’t succeed is because it was strapped on his shoulder.

A few decades years ago, a teenager like Rittenhouse might be working to become an Eagle Scout.

Healthline reports that more than 90 percent of kids play video games and more than 90 percent of popular games portray violence.

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Avoidance Increases Target’s Stress

Most targets try to avoid contact with an abusive supervisor but this tactic may backfire because it increases the target’s stress, according to research published in the American Psychological Association’s  International Journal of Stress Management.

A study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Haifa in Israel found that direct communication with a bully boss results in more positive emotions for the target than avoidance. An example of direct communication is: “I tell the supervisor directly that he/she must not treat me like that.”

“It is understandable that employees wish to reduce their contact to a minimum.  However, this strategy further increases the employee’s stress because it is associated with a sense of weakness and perpetuates their fear of the supervisor,” said Prof. Dana Yagil, a member of the university’s Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences who headed the study.

According to the study, abusive supervision is a major organizational stressor yet little is known about how employees cope with such stress. The study examined five types of strategies for coping with the stress factor of abusive treatment:

  • Directly communicating with the abusive boss to discuss the problems.
  • Using forms of ingratiation such as doing favors, using flattery and compliance.
  • Seeking support from others.
  • Avoiding contact with the supervisor.
  • Reframing or mentally restructuring the abuse in a way that decreases its threat.

The most widely-used strategy reported by the 300 employees who participated in the study was avoiding contact with the abusive supervisor, disengaging from the supervisor as much as possible, and also to seeking support from others.  The least used strategy was direct communication with the abusive supervisor — the strategy that was most strongly related to employees’ positive emotions.

The study shows that managers should be alert to signs of employee detachment – as it might indicate that their own behavior is being considered offensive by those employees.