Playing Video Games Won’t Make You a School Shooter | Teen Ink

Playing Video Games Won’t Make You a School Shooter

November 20, 2019
By Ptet50403 BRONZE, Thronton, Colorado
Ptet50403 BRONZE, Thronton, Colorado
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

There has been lots of news lately about recent school shootings and other acts of violence done by kids/teens. There has also been a trend on what the cause of this increase in violence is: video games.

Politicians, including the president have been pushing for stricter regulations and outright bans on violence in video games, citing it as the cause of all the violence in today’s world. But I think that they are wrong.  A simple statement, and yet the science backs it up.

Right off the bat, if you blame video games for the cause of this broad issue, then you have just fallen into the trap of the “base rate fallacy.” The base rate fallacy is blaming something that people have in common for a relatively rare action/effect. 

Basically it is saying that “well, since the one shooter played these violent video games, then that means everybody who plays violent video games is going to be a school shooter.” In my mind that just doesn't make any sense. It would be the same as saying “well, this school accepts 3% of applicants, but my child is really smart, so he will definitely make it in.” Your child would still have only a 3% chance of making it in.

Another flaw in using this is that most school shooters don’t even have an interest in playing violent video games. In fact, a study done by the Secret Service found that only 12% of school shooters has in interest in violent video games, as opposed to 27% with an interest in violent movies and 24% with an interest in violent books. So why aren’t politicians more interested in restricting those books and movies?

Well the cause might be juvenoia. The definition of juvenoia, according to CSMonitor, is “the exaggerated fear of the effects of social change on youth.” Another definition states it as being “The fear or hostility directed by an older generation toward a younger one, or toward youth culture in general.” 

Most politicians are way older than 18, so they might not understand in full the effects of gaming on children's minds. They only see it as something that is bad and that can’t possibly be doing any good for the child. In reality, some of the video games might enhance the child’s empathy, and also build teamwork skills.

But wait, there’s more! If your hypothesis is that violent video games cause violence to rise in teens, then there should be a clear connection between violent video games being sold and violent crimes done by teens.


But in fact, it is the complete opposite. When looking at a chart by with the sales of video games, vs statistics by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, you see a clear pattern.

With the rise in video game sales, there is a decrease in violent crimes done by teens. Now if video games were the cause of the violence, again, you would expect an increase of violent crimes with the increase of video game sales. But it’s not the case.

And what about all those studies that do show a link between playing violent video games and violence in teens increasing? Well, Science Daily points out that most of these studies were done with small sample groups, and that most of them also didn’t study the long term effects of playing violent video games, only the immediate effects.

So the science confirming that there is a link are often false positives, done with small sample groups, with not a broad view of the overall effects, both immediate and long term.

So, what is there to make of this? Well if you would just take a second to actually read the scientific data, there is no link between playing violent video games and actually having an increase of violence and violent tendencies.

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