Stop Using Video Games as a Scapegoat for Mass Shootings

Jack Parkos | @laissez_faire76

Following the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump made a statement condemning violent video games.

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.”

Even more criticisms of gaming come from the older generation. The common argument goes that playing violent games causes violence amongst gamers, possibly leading to mass shootings. However, while their claims may sound reasonable, there is no evidence to suggest this.

Video Game Sales vs. Rate of Violence

If the argument that violent video games cause more violence was true, then it would be assumed that as gaming increases, then so would violent crime rates. This would make the most logical sense. However, the data suggests otherwise.

This chart shows clearly that violent crime has decreased while video game sales have increased. This does not necessarily mean that video games reduce violent crime. However, it does show that they do not increase violent crime. This trend is also visible among the youth. As video game sales have increased, juvenile incarcerations have decreased.

While Americans love their video games, they are not the only country in the world that games. Japan has higher rates of video game sales per capita than the United States. In spite of this, Japan has a significantly lower crime rate than America. In fact, America has a crime rate about four times that of Japan. This includes a homicide rate 13 times that of Japan. If gaming truly causes violence, then Japan would have a higher crime rate than the United States.

Violent Behavior

But what do Psychologists say? According to a study by Andrew Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of Oxford University, there is no evidence to suggest that video games cause violent behavior, including mass shootings.

(T)he results derived from our hypothesis testing did not support the position that violent gaming relates to aggressive behavior

This study was conducted with 1,000 British teenagers, however, Przybylski noted that this shouldn’t make too big a difference. As noted above, America is not the only country playing video games. Kids still play Call of Duty in both America and Britain. Clearly, gaming is not the problem here. As the study notes:

(W)e found adolescents were not more or less likely to engage in aggressive or prosocial behaviors as a function of the amount of time they devoted to playing violent games.

Politicians love to come up with scapegoats to explain violent behaviors. Recently, the top choices are rhetoric about gun laws and video games. However, the data above suggests that these should be thrown disregarded with the other political scapegoats.

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