Can a horror or action video game or film influence the human mind and cause violent actions in the real world?
By Landon Crook
Let’s assume you are coming home from work or school. Sometimes the best way to unleash your frustration or stress is through media, but this also has raised an issue amongst society. Does media violence affect us today subconsciously and cause violent tendencies? While I won’t deny a possibility that there might be a very slight connection between media violence and society, such as potentially desensitizing people, are all those possibilities really worth all the negative attention some violent games or movies get by association?
I want to start off with the correlation between media violence and actual societal violence, or the lack thereof. According to Christopher Ferguson, Media Psychologist at Stetson University, a lot of studies claiming that there is a correlation between media violence and societal violence, but people always forget a “third variable.” Examples of these variables can include “intrinsic motivation, exposure to family violence, or sometimes even the gender of the player.”
“A more recent meta-analysis has identified significant problems with publication bias in the literature and found that the relationship between video game habits and aggressive behavior was effectively zero percent,” Ferguson wrote.
As stated by Ferguson, a fair amount of studies show that they leave out this “third” variable, which is essentially factors such as home life.Home life is huge in terms of a child’s development, and the chances of things, such as “Ben 10” or by more “violent” standards, “Call of Duty’ are likely not going to have a huge effect.
If there is indeed a correlation, it is simply too loose to seriously put two and two together. According to Ferguson, “Studies of youth also call into question whether a link between violent video games and aggression exists. In a 2015 meta-analysis of studies examining video game effects on youth, little evidence emerged for causal links between violent video games and behavioral problems in youth. Likewise, studies have not supported that a population of youth exists who are vulnerable to game effects.” There is just simply too much evidence on the contrary that it is staggering.
Some would say these are false claims, but this is just a moral panic. You might have noticed by now that whenever a mass shooting happens, many times, violent video games or movies or other forms of media are given some of the blame. This simply isn’t true. Now I don’t want to say “fake news” since that is a phrase that is thrown around a lot, but this is more “half-truth news.” Society and some media have habit of stretching the truth to better fit their narrative, and video games have experienced this the worst throughout the years. I don’t think it is fair to blame media for societal ills.