Violent Video Games and Real Life (Part 1-Can Violent Games Cause Our Children to Do Harm?)

Posted By Regan Zambri Long, PLLC || 18-Apr-2017

Ever since the invention of the video game, the controversy a possible link between violent video games and real-life violent behavior has been raging. With every news report of a mass shooting or act of violence, particularly by the young, the debate rekindles. Do these games teach our children to become violent toward others? Let’s step back from the emotional factors for a moment and look at the actual science behind this issue.

Can Violent Video Games Breed Aggression?

Yes. Psychology Today cites two separate scientific studies on children and adults, allowing different test groups to play non-violent and violent games, respectively. These studies conclude that that extended exposure to violence in video games can cause an increase in aggressive behavior. A more recent report by the American Psychological Association confirms these findings, but it also stops short of linking games to acts of violence or harm: “All violence, including lethal violence, is aggression, but not all aggression is violence,” the report says.

Can Violent Video Games Cause Children to Do Harm?

This idea is still unproven. Critics of violent games frequently cite Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza as an example because of his known gaming obsession. However, this article in Scientific American points out that the game Lanza played most in the days preceding the attack was Dance Dance Revolution at a local movie theater, not any of the violent games in his collection. The article uses this example to underscore a point: Despite the proven links to increased aggressive behavior, these studies have yielded no hard evidence that violent games actually lead the players toward violent acts or crimes.

Our takeaway: While we can’t conclusively link violent video games with real-life violence, we can link them to increased aggression in children, which can certainly lead to unintended consequences. Additionally, we’ve not yet explored whether the games can cause harm or injury to our children themselves. We’ll discuss this idea in part 2.

If someone you love has been victimized by violence, our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys can help. Call our office for more information.

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