Violent Video Games Don’t Cause Real World Violence
March 22, 2017
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Video games are a rapidly growing medium whose subjects range from puzzle-based apps to first-person shooters, but do some of these violent video games cause players to commit violent acts in real life?
From 1994 to 2014, the sale of video games increased 204%, and, while video games are on the rise, the juvenile crime rate began to fall. In the same twenty years, violent juvenile crime decreased by 37%, and murders perpetrated by juvenile offenders dropped by 76%. The juvenile Violent Crime Index showed that the arrest rate 2012 was 63% below the arrest rate in 1994, the peak year of juvenile crime. If teenagers are focused on video games, they have no time to go out and commit crimes.
“It stands to reason that if you find an activity that keeps potential criminals busy for six waking hours a day, that it probably makes sense that they’re going to be doing less crime,” said professor of economics at University of Chicago Steven Levitt PhD.
Even the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t believe in the effect that violent video games cause violent behavior. In 2011, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association was a case which ended the California law that prohibited minors from buying violent video games in a 7 to 2 vote.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote “[Studies that claim violent video games cause real world violence] have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason: they do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively.”
In the 71 mass shootings from 1982 to 2015, only 9.8% of attacks were perpetrated by minors. Mass shooters are rarely minors and, because so many minors play video games, of course there would be an overlap between those two groups.
A report from the U.S Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education found that in 41 minors who committed violent acts in school, 27% enjoyed violent movies, 24% enjoyed violent books, and 37% their own violent writings, but only 12% enjoyed violent video games. This shows that very few violent minors enjoy violent video games less than they enjoy other violent pieces of media.
A study in the Journal of Adolescent Health called, ‘Factors Correlated with Violent Video Game Use by Adolescent Boys and Girls’ found that 61.9% of boys play video games to relax, 47.8% of boys said video games help them to forget their problems, and 45.4% of boys said that video games help them get their anger out. Violent video games help minors get rid of aggressive feelings so they won’t take out their anger on real people.
“If you’re killing people in video games, you don’t need to kill people in real life,” said sophomore Bernie Warchal.
Another study in the Journal of Adolescent Health called ‘The Role of Violent Video Games Content in Adolescent Development: Boys’ Perspectives’ concluded, “Boys use games to experience fantasies of power and fame, to explore and master what they perceive as exciting and realistic environments (but distinct from real life), to work through angry feelings or relieve stress, and as social tools.” Minors use video games as a way to experience things they wouldn’t normally be able to do in real life.
“With video games, you can experience things you’ll never get to do in real life,” said sophomore Brandon Hernandez.
The violent content of video games doesn’t cause violence in real life because the players of the games can differentiate the reality from fiction and video games are an outlet to vent aggressive feelings.