For generations of children and young adults, there has always been something that has taken the blame for upsurges in violence. From television to rock and roll, there is always something to take the fall for what are arguably the actions of a small few. Video games are the latest technological terror to be demonized by parents and politicians. However, according to the latest research and studies, video games don’t cause violence. Here are some facts to consider:
Computer and video game sales have soared. Violence is on the decline.
Statistically, video games don’t cause violence. According to FBI’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, video game sales steadily climbed from just over $3 billion in 1996 to $7 billion in 2004. During this time, incidents of violent crime decreased from 3 million to just under 2 million incidents — a 40 year low. With their soaring popularity, if video games caused violence, the United States would have seen a rise in crime rates.
Typical gamers are not statistically violent.
When taking the stance that video games don’t cause violence, it’s important to look at the average age range and sex of your typical gamer. 40% of all gamers are women. The typical gamer is, on average, approximately 35 years old and has played video games for about 12 years. Many researchers have found that exposure to violence in the home or community would be more likely to predispose someone towards violent acts. Simply put, video games don’t cause violence in their key user demographic.
Video games don’t cause violence in young people.
During an appeal to show that video games don’t cause violence in young adults, The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared, “The state has not produced substantial evidence that… video games cause psychological or neurological harm to minors.” Also supporting the theory that video games don’t cause violence is the 2010 study from Dr. Fergusson and Dr. Stephanie M. Rueda in which they sampled 103 young adults and had them solve a frustration task after playing video games. One group did not play a video game, one played a nonviolent video game, one played as protagonists in a violent game, and one played villains in a violent game.
They found that the games had no impact on aggressive behavior whatsoever, and that the group which played no game at all was the most aggressive after the task, whereas the group that played the violent games were the least hostile and depressed.
Desensitization or victim empathy does not decrease with video game use.
Whereas video games don’t cause violence, they also do not “desensitize” gamers to real life violent acts or cause a lack of empathy towards victims. Recent studies have shown that exposure to violence on screen had little or no influence on viewer’s reactions to real life violence. A similar study in Applied Cognitive Psychology alsofound little to no evidence for a desensitizing effect for video games.
Taking these facts into account, it’s easy to make the argument that video games don’t cause violence. Perhaps it’s time for our society to take a closer look at other factors, such as violence in the home or community, in order to prevent further violent tragedies. Perhaps it’s time to start looking at the plain truth: video games don’t cause violence. We do.
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