Video games cause violence?

Donald Trump blames violent video games after mass shootings

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Are violent video games to blame for the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

Another day in America, and more mass shootings. The shootings in El Paso and Dayton have left over 31 people dead and dozens injured.

As American mourns, they will also be looking for ways to make sure these atrocities do not happen again.

Donald Trump has blamed violent video games as one of the causes for the mass shootings, saying the US must "stop or substantially reduce" a culture that celebrates violence.

However, this argument has been called "lazy, dishonest and a deflection" by critics of the president.

The Claim

Donald Trump is blaming video games as one of the reasons behind mass shootings in the United States, CNN reports.

Speaking from the White House on Monday, Trump said: "We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace.

"It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this and it has to begin immediately."

His views are backed by Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority leader, who also has blamed video games for gun violence.

The Republican told Fox News on Sunday: "But the idea of these video games that dehumanise 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."

The Counterclaim

However, PC Mag's Will Greenwald says that video games are not a factor in mass shootings.

He argues that complaints from politicians are "a decades-old distraction and continue to be unsubstantiated".

Greenwald notes that video games are not unique to the US - they are popular worldwide. The US is the second biggest video game market in the world with 178.7 million players, followed by Japan, South Korea, the UK, and Germany. China is the biggest video game market.

He explains that video games are not unique - but violence is. The homicide rate in the US was 5.3 for every 100,000 people in 2017. The UK was at 1.2, Germany was 1, South Korea was 0.6., and Japan sat at 0.2.

He adds that mass shootings are unique to the US, but not the other countries where video games are popular.

Greenwald concludes: "But there's no evidence that violent video games are a factor, and making that connection is lazy, dishonest, and a deflection.

"Let's stop even entertaining the idea until there is clear, correlative data to back it up."

The Facts

Researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute, based at the University of Oxford, found that violent video games are not associated with aggressive behaviour in teenagers.

Professor Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the institute, said: "The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn't tested very well over time.

"Despite interest in the topic by parents and policymakers, the research has not demonstrated that there is a cause for concern."

After monitoring the video game use of around 1,000 British teenagers, and symptoms of aggression reported by their parents, Przybylski said: "We found a whole lot of nothing."

The 2019 study from Oxford is not alone. As NBC's Fact Check notes, there have been similar studies from 2015, 2016 and 2018 that have failed to find evidence that video games spurred violence.

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