Violent video games don’t lead to violent crime

I was recently in a discussion about whether violent video games led to violent crime or not.

The main argument from the other side was “well, it’s just obvious isn’t it” and, on a slightly more substance based strand, “kids just think violence such as they experience on a video game is normal and acceptable.”

My argument was that there simply isn’t any evidence for this. I wasn’t going to chase it up or anything but I have work to do that I’m procrastinating from and as I saw a related article in the news just now, I thought I would double check my facts.

A quick consultation of the encyclopedia helpfully points out the bottom line – that Harvard Medical School and the British Medical Journal have both done studies into this topic “have shown no conclusive link between video game usage and violent activity.”

The fact is the evidence shows there isn’t a link between violent video games and kids going out and committing violent crimes.

But I would also goes as far as to say that, if you put some thought into it, it’s actually obvious that there isn’t a link. I think there are two main reasons for this.

The first is that Wikipedia also points out that over the past 20 years violent crime has been consistently in decline whereas sales of video games have been consistently growing. If there was a link we would expect that as more violent video games were sold, violent crime would increase. But it doesn’t. In fact it goes the opposite way. I’m not suggesting that violent video games actually decrease violent crimes but it certainly is evidence against the idea that encourage it.

Secondly, society hasn’t really got any more violent than it used to be.

Video games may be a relative new comer (although of course the ZX81 is actually older than I am) but the idea of violent games certainly isn’t. For years kids have been running around playing cops and robbers, cowboys and indians, playing with toy soliders and toy guns. Indeed my dad has often told me that one of the must have toys of his era was the Johnny 5 Gun, so called because it had five different modes of shooting. The only difference today is that kids run around a virtual world connected by their X Box Live rather than doing it in real life – which is arguably far more real than in a computer game.

Given these two reasons alone, it does not seem intuative that the popularisation of video games including some which are violent, would automatically lead to violent crime – and you would be right, because the evidence backs up that it doesn’t.



Don't have time to check my blog? Get a weekly email with all the new posts. This is my personal blog, so obviously it is 100% spam free.


Tags: , ,

This entry was posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2010 at 6:23 pm and is filed under Religion & Politics, Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.