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Are video games to blame for violent crimes?

The average individual may feel as though he or she is being nearly constantly bombarded by reports of violent crimes. Most would likely agree that the best way to prevent these incidents from occurring is to try to determine what causes someone to act in that manner. While there are of course many things that contribute to each person acting the way that they do, some wonder what role violent video games play in the commission of violent crimes.

It makes sense that this would be an area to explore. Consider that several young men who have injured and killed others since video games became extremely popular and accessible, were reportedly video gamers. Combine that with the fact that within the last few years the games have become extremely realistic, and many people become interested in looking for a link between the two.

Studies that have been conducted on the subject take three different approaches:

  • Longer-term studies.
  • Short-term laboratory experiments.
  • Correlation studies.

While the longer-term studies have yet to provide evidence supporting whether gaming leads to an increased risk of someone committing a violent crime such as a assault, rape or murder, the short-term lab experiments do indicate that mildly aggressive behavior follows playing the games. In addition, some with a gaming habit were found to be slightly more aggressive over the period of a couple years.

Other studies found that the children who were drawn to violent video games are already aggressive in nature. In addition, despite the sales of video games more than doubling since 1996, between the years of 1994 and 2010, government statistics indicate that the number of violent youth offenders fell by more than half.

While more research is necessary before it is possible to determine whether there is a direct connection between the two, most would likely agree that numerous things contribute to someone committing a violent act.

Source: The New York Times, “Shooting in the Dark,” Benedict Carey, Feb. 11, 2013

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