President Donald Trump will meet with video game industry representatives Thursday to discuss video games as instigators of violence in real life.
In the wake of the Parkland school shooting, the president has joined critics voicing concern over children's exposure to violence in video games, movies and the internet. The shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz would reportedly play violent video games for up to 15 hours a day, according to the Miami Herald.
A week after the shooting during a meeting at the White House with local and state officials on school safety, Trump said:
“We have to look at the Internet, because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds, and their minds are being formed. And we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it. And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence in video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts."
The link between violent video games and violent children is not a new topic. In fact, researchers have debated on whether or not there's a correlation between the two, since the rise of school shootings post Columbine.
So, what's the verdict?
In short, researchers haven't been able to find a direct link between violent video games and school shootings.
While there are studies which claim violent video games are "exemplary teachers of aggression", other studies which also support a connection between an aggressive emotional state and video games suggest the emotions don't lead to physical violence. An Iowa State University and Kansas State University study found heightened aggressive feelings and thoughts linked to the effects of short-term violent game only last about four to nine minutes.
"All we can really say for sure is that there does not appear to be a link at this time between violent video games and school shootings,” said Patrick Markey, Villanova University psychologist, in a USA Today article. “And if there is a link, it goes in the opposite direction.”
Markey's research found that only about 20 percent of school shooters play video games, compared with about 70 percent of high school students overall.
Markey also told USA Today, the Virginia Tech gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, had no interest in video games at all — which surprised his roommate who “thought it was weird he didn’t play video games."
Markey, co-author of the 2017 book Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong, also explained school shooters typically tend to not do the same activities as their peers. Playing video games is a common pastime for not just American children and teens, but young people around the world.
A 2015 study by the American Psychological Association (APA) supports Markey's research and found there is not sufficient evidence to support that the aggressive emotions violent video game players experience extend to criminal violence.
"No single risk factor consistently leads a person to act aggressively or violently,” the report states. “Rather, it is the accumulation of risk factors that tends to lead to aggressive or violent behavior. The research reviewed here demonstrates that violent video game use is one such risk factor."
Donald Trump, President of the United States
Patrick Markey, Villanova University psychologist and researcher
READ: USA Today article, Greg Toppo
READ: Miami Herald article, Julie K. Brown
READ: How Violent Video Games are Exemplary Aggression Teachers, Science Daily
READ: How Long Do the Short-Term Violent Video Game Effects Last?, Iowa State University/Kansas State University
READ: Technical Report on the Review of the Violent Video Game Literature, American Psychological Association
READ: Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games is Wrong, Patrick Markey/Christopher Ferguson