The link between shootings and video games      

Hint—there isn’t one.

Jon Peddie
(Source: Sean Do on Unsplash)

Contrary to popular belief, there is no causal link between video games and acts of physical violence, including school shootings. The Stanford Brainstorm Lab, specializing in technology and mental health, conducted extensive research and found no evidence to support such a connection. However, it was discovered that politicians often make false claims about this link, perpetuating a larger scapegoat narrative promoted by the NRA. Access to guns, particularly in the US, remains a significant factor in the country’s high rates of gun violence, rather than video games or other forms of media. Numerous studies and media outlets have debunked the notion of video games causing gun-related crimes.

Anyone who has read a story about a shooting, especially one committed by a teenager, knows the reason behind the shooting was due to the teenager’s adolescent angst and the training in killing he got from playing violent video games. Everyone knows that, right?

But what if it wasn’t true?

The Stanford Brainstorm Lab focuses on technology and mental health. Researchers there spent months looking for any causal link between video games and violence. They discovered no causal link has been found between acts of physical violence and video games, but some research suggests gaming could be an outlet for aggression.

However, they did discover a direct link to politicians making false claims to a linkage. The researchers commented that this will no doubt come as a surprise to many. “After all, in a culture that fetishizes guns, video games surely cannot be excluded as a factor in gun violence.” But this expectation of a causal relationship has been carefully crafted as part of a larger scapegoat narrative by the NRA.

It was also noted that while these video games are not a uniquely American phenomenon, relatively unfettered access to guns—particularly those specifically designed to kill people—is, at least in the developed world. This ease of access to guns remains the most compelling reason for American exceptionalism when it comes to our alarming, unnecessary, and continued proclivity for mass shootings—not video games, movies, or TV.

Most research studies show no evidence of a causal link between video games and school shootings. This consensus becomes clear through meta-analysis studies, which combine findings from large numbers of studies that use different methodologies.USA Today also did an in-depth study on the connection between gun violence and video games. It found that there was no statistical correlation between video game consumption and gun-related murders. The New York Times, NBC News, the Washington Post, and CNN have addressed similar versions of the claim.

What do we think?

New studies have unveiled numerous positive aspects associated with playing video games. These games present players with fresh challenges and provide instant feedback on their skills, encouraging an iterative process of improvement. This unique approach not only helps players develop a sense of accomplishment but also promotes a healthy perspective when facing real-life difficulties. Many video games are intrinsically social, engaging multiple players in team efforts. Studies on multiplayer games showed evidence of improvements in cognitive and social skills and self-esteem, as well as decreases in depression, stress, and loneliness.