Video games do not make people violent


photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Patrick Ervine, Staff Writer

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Although politicians and the media often place the blame of adolescent violence on video games, that’s hardly the truth. Video games don’t actually make people violent; they do the opposite. They can actually help the lives of teens.

Some go as far to speculate that school shootings are caused by video games. Where has there been definitive proof that video games caused these tragic events to happen? The only people saying that when the issue comes up are politicians and bureaucrats. No justice system has actually found video games to be the motive of shootings.

“That the latest statistics show youth violence at a 40-year low despite the popularity of video games is something that has to be considered, especially with media psychologists insisting that game violence is directly responsible for shooting rampages (along with psychiatric medication, availability of guns, or whatever other pet cause is being advocated),” Romeo Vitelli, who holds a doctorate in psychology, said.

While there are a few cases of video games genuinely causing violence, these cases are rare. For every person that committed violent acts because of video games, there are hundreds, if not thousands, not talked about in the media who play video games that don’t do such things.

“Almost all meta-analyses agree on a correlation of about 0.15 which, while significant, is really not that large,” Vitelli said. “Researchers also debate whether an effect size that small is enough to rein in the entire video game industry as a result.”

For reference, a correlation between 0 and 0.29 is considered low degree by most statisticians.

It’s essentially the opposite of survivor bias, where only the bad cases are seen and the many other situations where that didn’t happen are completely ignored.

In fact, a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found 53 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement “people who play violent video games are more likely to be violent themselves.”

This shows that the majority of people surveyed have some sort of experience that contradicts what the media says about video games causing violence.

Studies also show that video games can improve people’s cognitive functions. “The most recent issue of the American Journal of Play  includes an article by researchers Adam Eichenbaum, Daphne Bavelier, and C. Shawn Green summarizing recent research demonstrating long-lasting positive effects of video games on basic mental processes–such as perception, attention, memory, and decision-making,” Peter Gray, who holds a doctorate in biological sciences, said. “Many of the abilities tapped by [action] games are precisely those that psychologists consider to be the basic building blocks of intelligence.”