It is common to hear from politicians, parents, and many others that violent video games are the cause of so much violence and mass shootings in the United States. For example, Lt. Governor of Texas Dan Patrick said that these games “dehumanize individuals” and cause “a game of shooting individuals and others.”
In fact, Walmart removed violent video games from its shelves, despite the fact that the store continued to sell actual guns and ammunition.
This idea seems to be logical, but is there any truth to it? One study published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization showed that surprisingly, it was not the case.
Applied microeconometrician and paper author Agne Suziedelyte shared: “Popular media often links violent video games to real-life violence, although there is limited evidence to support this link.”
Suziedelyte continued: “I [analyzed] how adolescent boys’ violent behavior is affected by the releases of new violent video games in the U.S. … I find no evidence that child reported violence against other people increases after a new violent video game is released.”
This is just the latest study in a growing body of evidence that video games don’t cause violence, and might even reduce levels of violence in society.
Suziedelytes findings contrast with some other studies that do find a link between violent video games and increased aggression. She explains that she specifically looks at measuring violence against other people, “the type of violence we care about the most.”
She continues: “Taken together, these results suggest that violent video games may agitate children, but this agitation does not translate into violence against other people.”
The reason behind this might be practical as opposed to psychological. Suziedelyte speculated that kids usually play these violent video games at home, where “opportunities to engage in violence are lower.”
She said that her research has showed no increase in violent attacks after kids play violent video games, and says that “policies that place restrictions on video game sales to minors are unlikely to reduce violence.”