Last updated on: 6/8/2021 | Author: ProCon.org

Pro & Con Quotes: Do Violent Video Games Contribute to Youth Violence?

PRO (yes)

Pro 1

Kevin McCarthy, US Representative (R-CA), as quoted by Devan Cole in an Aug. 5, 2019 article, “Trump, McCarthy Cite Video Games as a Driver behind Mass Shootings,” available at cnn.com, stated:

“But the idea of these video games that dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals and others – I’ve always felt that is a problem for future generations and others. We’ve watched from studies shown before of what it does to individuals. When you look at these photos of how it took place, you can see the actions within video games and others.”

Aug. 5, 2019

Pro 2

Dan Patrick, Republican Lieutenant Governor of Texas, as quoted by Alana Rocha in an Aug. 4, 2019 article, “After El Paso Shooting, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Says Video Games Teach Young People “to Kill,'” available at texastribune.org, stated:

“We’ve always had guns, always had evil, but I see a video game industry that teaches young people to kill.”

Aug. 4, 2019

Pro 3

Donald Trump, 45th US President, stated the following in a meeting about school safety, as seen in a video titled “Trump Blames Video Games, Movies for Violence,” posted on YouTube by CNN on Feb. 22, 2018:

“We have to do something about what they’re [young kids] seeing and how they’re seeing it. And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence in video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. And then you go the further step, and that’s the movies. You see these movies, they’re so violent, and yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved, and maybe we need to put a rating system for that.”

Feb. 22, 2018 - Donald Trump

Pro 4

Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky (R), stated the following in a Feb. 15, 2018 interview with Leland Conway on iHeart Radio:

“You look at the culture of death that is being celebrated. There are video games that, yes, are listed for mature audiences, but kids play them and everybody knows it, and there’s nothing to prevent the child from playing them. They celebrate the slaughtering of people. There are games that literally replicate and give people the ability to score points for doing the very same thing that these students are doing inside of schools, where you get extra points for finishing someone off who’s lying there begging for their life. These are quote-unquote video games and they’re forced down our throats under the guise of protected speech… They have desensitized people to the value of human life, to the dignity of women, to the dignity of human decency… We’re training our society to kill.”

Feb. 15, 2018 - Matt Bevin

Pro 5

Marianna King, MA, Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Colorado State University, in a Mar. 8, 2017 reader comment in response to Toni Irving’s Mar. 6, 2017 article for the Philanthropy News Digest’s Philanthropic blog titled “Moving the Needle on Youth Violence,” wrote:

“An overlooked but highly potent factor in youth violence and gun violence is the influence of first-person shooter video games. Neuroscientific research during the past decade has shown conclusively that media violence and especially violent video games cause increased aggressive and violent behavior.”

Mar. 8, 2017 - Marianna King, MA

Pro 6

Wayne Warburton, PhD, Deputy Director of the Children and Families Research Centre at Macquarie University, wrote in the 2014 paper “Apples, Oranges, and the Burden of Proof – Putting Media Violence Findings into Context: A Comment on Elson and Ferguson (2013),” in European Psychologist:

“[I]t is absolutely irrelevant whether crime rates fall or rise when violent video game playing increases, as gaming can only ever be one of a multitude of possible factors that contribute to violent crime trends…
 
[M]y conclusions after carefully examining the evidence for the impact of violent video games on players’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, are that commonly reported effects – short- and long-term increases in aggressive  behavior,  desensitization  to  violence,  and increases to hostile attitudes and beliefs – are demonstrated both on the balance of probabilities and beyond reasonable doubt.”

2014 - Wayne Warburton, PhD

Pro 7

Matt DeLisi, PhD, Professor of Sociology at Iowa State University, Michael G. Vaughn, PhD, Associate Professor of Social Work at Saint Louis University at the time of the quote, Douglas A. Gentile, PhD, Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology at Iowa State University, Craig A. Anderson, PhD, Distinguished Professor & Director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University, and Jeffrey J. Shook, JD, PhD, Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, wrote in their Oct. 2012 paper “Violent Video Games, Delinquency, and Youth Violence: New Evidence” in Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice:

“The present data show that playing violent video games and/or having a preference for violent video games is correlated with delinquency and violence even when considering the effects of a battery of correlates of delinquency including psychopathy…
 
The consumption of violent media is far from innocuous, and when violent media consumption in the form of video games is viewed by adults as a ‘reward’ for youth to spend their free time, it can be problematic. Youth with pre-existing psychopathology are particularly at risk for the deleterious effects of violent video games.”

Oct. 2012 - Craig Anderson, PhD
Michael G. Vaughn, PhD
Douglas A. Gentile, PhD
Jeffrey J. Shook, JD, PhD
Matt DeLisi, PhD

Pro 8

David N. Greenfield, PhD, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, said in a Sep. 20, 2013 panel discussion titled “Growing Up GTA” available at huffingtonpost.com:

“My opinion on video game violence, which has a very powerful reward system wired into it, is that continued exposure desensitizes people to the experience of violence. But the other big issue, along with the reward structure, is that it teaches them a skill set that they might not otherwise develop, especially the first person shooter games. I have a real problem with giving people, in the name of entertainment, a technology that desensitizes violence, and then teaches you how to commit violence more accurately… and then elevating people’s levels of dopamine…

[T]hose studies have been absolutely supported. When you put people on a PET scanner or an functional MRI, their brain lights up like a Christmas tree when they’re doing these games, especially when they hit the reward points that are designed by the gamers to… keep people gaming because that’s how these games make their money.

Nothing is engaged in at the levels that I see gaming at, as a form of entertainment or dopamine elevation, unless it’s a narcotic like cocaine for instance. How could you be exposed to something this toxic and have it not affect you?”

Sep. 20, 2013 - David N. Greenfield, PhD

Pro 9

Brad J. Bushman, PhD, Professor of Communication and Psychology at The Ohio State University, stated the following in a Feb. 18, 2013 article titled “Why Do People Deny Violent Media Effects?” available at psychologytoday.com:

“People want to believe that if millions of people play violent video games and they don’t all become killers, then those games must be harmless. Unfortunately, that’s not true.  We haven’t ‘proven’ video games directly cause violence because it can’t be proven. There is no way to ethically run experiments that see if some threshold of playing a violent game like Call of Duty may push a person into violence. But that doesn’t mean we are left without evidence. We know that video game violence is certainly correlated with violence – just like smoking is correlated with lung cancer. However, this does not mean that the research does not show causal effects; in fact it does, over and over again. We recently conducted a comprehensive review of 136 articles reporting 381 effects involving over 130,000 participants from around the world. These studies show that violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure), and aggressive behavior. Violent games also decrease helping behavior and feelings of empathy for others. The effects occurred for males and females of all ages, regardless of what country they lived in. So the question then becomes why people and journalists repeatedly shrug off this compelling body of work.”

Feb. 18, 2013 - Brad J. Bushman, PhD

Pro 10

Pamela Eakes, Founder of Mothers Against Violence in America (MAVIA), wrote in an article titled “Do You Know What Video Games Your Children Are Playing?” on www.pbs.org (accessed Feb. 4, 2016):

“Parents do know that children learn by observing, imitating what they observe, and acting on the world around them. According to child psychologist Michael Rich, children develop what psychologists call ‘behavioral scripts.’ They interpret their experiences and respond to others using those scripts.

One can easily see how repeated exposure to violent behavioral scripts can lead to increased feelings of hostility, expectation that others will behave aggressively, desensitization to the pain of others, and an increased likelihood of interacting and responding to others with violence.

Violent video games are an ideal environment in which to learn violence. Violent video games:

* Place the player in the role of the aggressor and reward him or her for violent behavior.
* Allow the player to rehearse an entire behavioral script from provocation to choosing a violent resolution of conflict.
* Are addictive – kids want to play them for hours to improve their playing skills, and repetition increases learning.”

Feb. 4, 2016 - Pamela Eakes

CON (no)

Con 1

Christopher J. Ferguson, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Stetson University, as quoted by the Association for Psychological Science in a Sep 29, 2020 article, “Violent Video Games and Aggression: The Connection Is Dubious, at Best,” available at newswire.com, stated:

“We found that violent video games do not appear to be linked to aggression… Games are now more important than ever for socialization, feeling autonomy and control during an uncertain time, and just de-stressing.”

Sep 29, 202 - Christopher Ferguson, PhD

Con 2

The American Psychological Association, in a Mar. 3, 2020 policy update, “APA Reaffirms Position on Violent Video Games and Violent Behavior,” available at apa.org, stated:

“There is insufficient scientific evidence to support a causal link between violent video games and violent behavior, according to an updated resolution adopted by the American Psychological Association.

APA’s governing Council of Representatives seated a task force to review its August 2015 resolution in light of many occasions in which members of the media or policymakers have cited that resolution as evidence that violent video games are the cause of violent behavior, including mass shootings…

The 2015 resolution was updated by the Council of Representatives on March 1 with this caution. Based on a review of the current literature, the new task force report (PDF, 285KB) reaffirms that there is a small, reliable association between violent video game use and aggressive outcomes, such as yelling and pushing. However, these research findings are difficult to extend to more violent outcomes. These findings mirror those of an APA literature review conducted in 2015.”

Mar. 3, 2020 - American Psychiatric Association (APA)

Con 3

Lauren Farrar, Producer for KQED Learning’s YouTube series Above the Noise, in a Jan 8, 2020 article, “Are Video Games Really Making Us More Violent?,” available at kqed.org, stated:

“Often times after tragic mass shooting, we hear politicians turn the blame to violent video games, but the reality is that the research doesn’t really support that claim. There’s little scientific evidence to suggest that playing violent video games leads to mass homicide or violence in real life. Instead the debate in the research field is about the role violent video games plays on more minor levels of aggression…

In general, violence usually refers to physical harm or physical acts that hurt someone– like hitting, kicking, punching, and pushing. Aggression is a more broad term that refers to angry or hostile thoughts, feelings or behaviors. So everything that is violent is aggressive, but not everything that is aggressive is violent. For example, getting frustrated, yelling, talking back, arguing those are all aggressive behaviors, but they aren’t violent. The research on the effects of violent video games and behavior often looks at these milder forms of aggressive behavior.”

Jan 8, 2020

Con 4

Patrick Markey, PhD, Psychology Professor at Villanova University, as quoted by Mae Anderson in an Aug. 6, 2019 article, “No, There’s Still No Link between Video Games and Violence,” available at apnews.com, stated:

“The general story is people who play video games right after might be a little hopped up and jerky but it doesn’t fundamentally alter who they are. It is like going to see a sad movie. It might make you cry but it doesn’t make you clinically depressed…

Politicians on both sides go after video games it is this weird unifying force. It makes them look like they are doing something… They [violent video games] look scary. But research just doesn’t support that there’s a link [to violent behavior].”

Aug. 6, 2019 - Patrick M. Markey, PhD

Con 5

Andrew Przybylski, PhD, Associate Professor, and Senior Research Fellow and Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University, as quoted by Arman Azad in an Aug. 5, 2019 article, “Video Games Unlikely to Cause Real-World Violence, Experts Say,” available at cnn.com, stated:

“Games have only become more realistic. The players of games and violent games have only become more diverse. And they’re played all around the world now. But the only place where you see this kind of narrative still hold any water, that games and violence are related to each other, is in the United States. [And, by blaming video games for violence,] we reduce the value of the political discourse on the topic, because we’re looking for easy answers instead of facing hard truths.”

Aug. 5, 2019

Con 6

Samuel Zeif, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor, stated the following in an interview with Wolf Blizter, as seen in a video titled “Trump Blames Video Games, Movies for Violence,” posted on YouTube by CNN on Feb. 22, 2018:

“My friends and I have been playing video games our whole life and never have we ever felt driven or provoked by those actions in those games to do something as horrible as this. It’s a video game. Something happens [in the game], you restart. We know that’s not how life is. I think it’s a distraction, the president’s [Trump] trying to distract us.”

Feb. 22, 2018 - Samuel Zeif

Con 7

Steven Pinker, PhD, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, in an Aug. 1, 2016 interview with Aroop Mukharji for the Belfer Center’s Office Hours series titled “Steven Pinker: The Impact of Violent Video Games on Kids,” available from youtube.com, stated:

“If consuming violent media made you violent, then we should prevent adults from reading The Iliad, or for that matter the Old Testament. Together with Shakespearean tragedies and Godfather movies and much else…

The data show that video games have skyrocketed in popularity during exactly the historical period in which violent crime has sunk to the floor. And in the same age cohorts.

I don’t think it’s because that we have some hydraulic urge to violence that has to be channeled through one conduit lest it burst out into another… partly these are independent developments, partly the beneficial effect of video games may just be that if you’re playing video games you’re not getting into trouble in other ways. And so the young men who are behind the screen are not out picking fights in bars or over parking spots.”

Aug. 1, 2016 - Steven K. Pinker, PhD

Con 8

The Entertainment Software Association, in its 2014 fact sheet titled “Essential Facts About Games and Violence” available from www.theesa.com, wrote:

“Facts, common sense and numerous studies all refute the claim that there is a link between video games and violence. Blaming video games for violence in the real world is no more productive than blaming the news media for bringing violent crimes into our homes night after night. Numerous authorities have examined the scientific record and found that it does not establish any causal link between media content and real-life violence…

* Violent crime, particularly among the young, has decreased dramatically since the early 1990s. During the same period of time, video games have steadily increased in popularity and use, exactly the opposite of what one would expect if there were a causal link.

* Many games with violent content sold in the U.S. – and some with far more violence – are also sold in foreign markets. However, the level of violent crime in these foreign markets is considerably lower than that in the U.S., suggesting that influences such as the background of the individual, the availability of guns and other factors are more relevant to understanding the cause of any particular crime…

* The truth is, there is no scientific research that validates a link between computer and video games and violence, despite lots of overheated rhetoric from the industry’s detractors. Instead, a host of respected researchers has concluded that there is no link between media violence and violent crime.”

2014 - Entertainment Software Association

Con 9

Sean Rife, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Murray State University, in a Mar. 22, 2017 article for Learn Liberty titled “Violent Video Games Do Not Cause Real-World Aggression,” wrote:

“Advocates of a video game-aggression link point to meta-analyses as the strongest evidence for their view… But meta-analysis itself has come under scrutiny as of late… first, if you do an analysis of hundreds of poorly-designed studies, all you have is artfully-analyzed noise… Second, meta-analysis suffers from a phenomenon known as publication bias: because scientific papers that fail to find an anticipated result are almost never published…

Setting all that aside, there is an additional, excellent reason to reject the video game-aggression hypothesis: over the last 30 years, video game sales have skyrocketed, and the games themselves have become both (a) more realistic, and (b) more violent… And yet, over the same period… violent crime has decreased substantially… If one were to ignore warnings against inferring correlation from causation, one might be tempted to conclude that violent video games actually reduce aggression.”

Mar. 22, 2017 - Sean Rife, PhD

Con 10

Matt Terzi, staff writer for Reverb Press, in an Aug. 18, 2015 article for Reverb Press titled “No, Video Games Do Not Cause Violence,” wrote:

“Being an advocate for real-world peace and a virtual killing machine in the video game realm are not mutually exclusive…

I played through the famous, gruesomely upsetting torture scene In Grand Theft Auto V, where you, playing as the instantly-legendary character Trevor Phillips, violently torture another character. It was the most grotesque thing I’d ever encountered in a video game. But it certainly wouldn’t inspire me to torture another person… far from it. If anything, it helped me better appreciate just how horrible torture is and show me, in graphic detail, precisely why torture is an archaic device of untold evil. You aren’t supposed to have ‘fun’ torturing that man… it’s supposed to make you feel disgusted and violated. And of all my countless gamer friends, I don’t know a single player who didn’t feel exactly that…

[U]ntil you’ve actually played these games, please don’t pass judgment on those of us who have. And for the love of God, don’t try to force these games to change because you, a person who will never play them, take issue with their content.”

Aug. 18, 2015 - Matt Terzi