Some psychologists are getting a bunch of press today for putting out a report claiming that violent video games and TV are the greatest threat to public safety, short of cigarettes
. Of course, we've been seeing claims about the threats of violent video games for years, but every time you dig into the research, you find that what the research actually found isn't at all what's being claimed. Most of the research claiming that violent video games leads to more violence has been dismantled
as it usually shows that while
people are playing a violent video game, they're likely to be more aggressive and emotional
-- but that makes sense. You are aggressive and emotional because you're tied up in the game and you're channeling that aggression and emotion towards
the game. What none of the studies seem to show is that this aggression and emotion then carry over into violent acts after the game is done. Some studies suggest people become desensitized
to seeing more violence -- but again, that doesn't mean they go out and commit violent acts. In fact, as we've noted repeatedly, as violent video games have become increasingly popular, we've actually seen violent acts dropping
. That, alone, isn't enough to say there's no impact, but it certainly raises questions about anyone claiming that violent video games are a threat to society.
So is this new research that has finally found a link? Unfortunately, not at all. This is simply a psychologist who has published some of the dismantled research above claiming that he's "reviewed" all of the research on the topic (apparently, much of which is his own research
) and declared that the sum of all that research means violent video media are the number two threat to public safety. That's pretty hard to take seriously. Basically, he's cherry picking research, much of which has already been shown not to say what he thinks it says, and then jumping to a conclusion that doesn't appear to be supported by the research. But, of course, it generates plenty of headlines.