With recent tragedies on everyone’s minds, some people are looking for a cause and culprit other than the shooters and perpetrators of the Aurora and Sandy Hook tragedies. Unfortunately some are blaming media, including video games, for violent behavior in individuals. We know this isn’t the case; banning or regulating media content even more won’t solve the issue.
As if a repeat of a television show we’ve seen before, there’s talk of more hearings and federally funded studies. Christopher J. Ferguson, the chair of the Texas A&M International University’s department of psychology and communication, among others including federally funded studies, have shown there’s no link between violent video games and real world violence like mass shooting, bullying or youth aggression. There’s no need for more federal studies, when there’s been federal studies completed. Past research has been mixed, at best, and often weakened by substantial methodological flaws.
The facts also back up no connection. While video game sales have increased, according to the FBI’s own statistics, violent crime has been steadily decreasing. In 2011, violent crimes nationwide decreased 3.8% from 2010. Since 2002, it’s decreased 15.5%. This is all during the time when games like Call of Duty and Halo have dominated sales.
At the same time, federal courts – including the Supreme Court – have routinely held that government regulation of media, including video games, is unconstitutional. Funding more studies – or passing laws that then get fought out in courts – costs taxpayers millions of dollars. That’s money better spent on treating the mentally ill or shoring up and improving background checks for weapons purchases.
We’ve seen these same conversations before. In the 1950s comic books were blamed for truancy, violence and homosexuality in youth. This lead to hearings in the United States Senate. We look back on this piece of history and laugh out how ludicrous this claim was then. It’s just as ludicrous today when the conversation turns to video games and their affects.
The Entertainment Consumers Association has put together an easy to send email that will send a message to your Representative in the House, two Senators and President Obama. It takes less than a minute to do and adding your voice to reiterate that entertainment does NOT cause violence might help the focus turn to factors that actually do.
There’s no easy solution to prevent violence like these events. But focusing on the wrong things isn’t the answer. Make your voice heard today.