Many young people reacting to the most recent mass shootings in the U.S. are rejecting the idea that violent video games motivate shooters. And research backs them up.
One Twitter user, Scott@Serptentine_Back described his interests as well as the fact he’d been bullied in school, but ended with “NEVER HAVE I ONCE THOUGHT OF SHOOTING INNOCENT PEOPLE.”
“Recent mass shootings have prompted the idea among some members of the public that exposure to violent video games can have a pronounced effect on individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD),” wrote University of Missouri professor Christopher R. Engelhardt. “Empirical evidence for or against this claim has been missing, however.”
More than 23,000 tweets had used the hashtag #VideogamesAreNotToBlame by late Monday afternoon, pushing back on some politicians’ assertions that violent video games influenced young, male shooters.
“I’ve always felt that it’s a problem for future generations and others,” Representative Kevin McCarthy said on Fox News. “We’ve watched from studies, shown before, what it does to individuals, and you look at these photos of how it took place, you can see the actions within video games and others.”
Authors of a new study funded by the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, say four factors motivate shooters:
* Early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age, such as parental suicide, physical or sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence and/or severe bullying;
* A specific grievance, like romantic rejection or job loss;
* Copy cats;
*Owning a weapon or getting one from a family member. But video games? Not so much, experts say.
“In the wake of many mass shootings, unfortunately, many people — including government officials — try to blame violent video games or other forms of violent media,” Englehardt wrote in an email. “However, evidence linking violent media to mass shootings is simply nonexistent. The are more important factors to consider, such as exposure to family violence and mental health issues.”
One Twitter user, AJ Szymanowski @TheRealSzymaa, shared under the hashtag VideogamesAreNotToBlame: “Video games are just there latest social Boogeyman for those who are unwilling to actually accept the blame.”
“There was no evidence for a critical tipping point relating violent game engagement to aggressive behaviour,” wrote Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein, professors at the University of Oxford and Cardiff University, respectively, in a journal of the Royal Society Open Science in the U.K.
On social media, some pointed to the proliferation of guns and gun violence as part of the legacy of baby boomers — those people born before 1964. “Hey Boomers, video games are not to blame for the shooting. It’s your own mess and you should do something about your horrible guns policy instead of banning video games. #VideogamesAreNotToBlame,” Alt King Gio, @Altgio8, tweeted.
“The Boomer crowd don’t want to take the blame for their actions because they failed. Excuse me but didn’t your parents scapegoat music for their mistakes or something before? The generational scapegoat curse lingers! #VideogamesAreNotToBlame,” tweeted ArkE, @arkenova89.
According to polling company Gallup, gun ownership in the U.S. peaked in 1994, when then-President Bill Clinton signed the Assault Weapons Ban into law, with 51 percent of homeowners reporting owning a gun. That percentage has varied, with between 34 percent and 43 percent of homeowners owning a gun, between 1994 and 2018, respectively. (VOA)