Politicians Say Video Games are the Cause of Violent Acts Like Mass Shootings, Experts Disagree
Following 2 horrific mass shootings across the country, politicians are using video games as a scapegoat to explain the bloodshed that left 31 dead and dozens more wounded. “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” President Trump said on Monday in a White House address on the shootings. “This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.”
Citing the increased popularity of video games revolving around violent themes, they say these games are contributing to a culture of glorifying violence. Experts, however, say there is little evidence linking the two.
Early research seemed to imply a link between violent video games and increased aggression among players. A 2015 report from the American Psychological Association stated it found “consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behavior, aggressive cognitions and aggressive affect.” Despite this, these findings did little to link said aggression to criminal violence and acting upon violence impulses.
A recent study of more than 1,000 British teens found no link between time spent playing violent video games and aggressive behavior. This is in line with other research that has found little evidence between games and violence. It is also important to note that increased aggression doesn’t mean that someone will carry out a mass act of violence like a shooting.
In fact, the aggression that was measured in the 2015 APA study could be explained by the simple fact that losing or playing a game that is too hard is quite frustrating, which can induce aggressive feelings. This aggression is not directed towards external forces, but rather toward the game itself, fueled by competitive nature.
Andrew Przybylski, an associate professor at the University of Oxford, told CNN, “The question that you have to ask yourself is, do people go out and do mass shootings after they rage-quit ‘Call of Duty’?” He said not so much, no more than someone going to commit a violent act after losing a game of pool.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that video games fall under protected speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment. The 7-2 decision cited a lack of evidence tying video games to violent acts and aggression. This decision was seemingly prescient for its time, as current research continues to back it up nearly a decade later.
Politicians blaming video games as the cause of atrocious acts of violence seems like a cheap shot at best. Rather than facing the root cause of violence in America, we are left chasing dead ends that won’t lead to change.