In a country where multiple mass shootings can occur within a 24-hour period, many parents and politicians have pointed a collective finger at video games.
It is easy to blame violent and gory video games for an uprise in domestic acts of terror. However, this blame game acts as a temporary distraction from the bigger picture.
The political climate has been flooded with headlines of mass shootings across the country and video games have become synonymous with these stories. More specifically violent video games much like the “Grand Theft Auto” and “Call of Duty” franchises. Reports like this can be traced back to the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 where politicians and experts blamed the shooters actions on the game “Doom.”
However later studies show no correlation between video games and mass shootings. Even recently, since Trump stated that video games were to blame for the El Paso shooting, several news sources backed by research claim that there is no link between video game violence and mass shootings.
Many forms of media like video games, music, comic books and television shows have been scrutinized for depicting imagery that goes against America’s Puritan values. In focusing on the things that are a threat to American values, we lose track of what is actually impacting the youth.
Other countries have access to violent video games and other media but the U.S. far surpasses others in violent gun deaths. Hate and xenophobia, easy access to firearms, and poor access to comprehensive education and psychological health services are a few things that cultivate the volatile environment in the U.S.
Compared to simulated violence, physical violence is much more likely to cause adolescents and young adults to act out aggressively. Abuse and neglect can manifest outwardly, in some cases, as behavioral issues or mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. If politicians were actually worried about violence in kids they would focus on making mental and behavioral health services more accessible, especially to people of color and youth experiencing poverty and hardship.
Federal justice officials have allowed young white men to shirk responsibility for their actions by villainizing violent media while young people of color struggle against racial disparities in the educational and justice systems.
Video games do not make young people violent, and the presence of some exceptions does not make it a strong enough argument for a nuanced issue that does not have a simple solution. The focus needs to be moved to restructuring how we handle the challenges that face the younger generation. Challenges like White supremacy, institutional racism, mental health stigma, gun control laws, the school to prison pipeline and many more.