Somebody Who Actually Researches Video Games Says Proof that Media Influences Violence Just Isn’t There

Illustration for article titled Somebody Who Actually Researches Video Games Says Proof that Media Influences Violence Just Isn’t There

The flurry of private citizens and professional pundits opining about what role video games might have played in the awful Sandy Hook shootings probably isn't going to stop soon. And while commentary has been ranged from inflammatory to poignant, the central issue of whether games influence behavior is far from being a fact. Just listen to a guy who studies these connections:

Chris Ferguson—professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M University—writes the following for Time Magazine's website:

As a video game violence researcher and someone who has done scholarship on mass homicides, let me state very emphatically: There is no good evidence that video games or other media contributes, even in a small way, to mass homicides or any other violence among youth.


Ferguson also says that we don't have yet the specifics on the shooter's media consumption to make any links as to casuality:

At this point, we don't know much about Adam Lanza's media use history. Given that, as researchers Cheryl Olson and Lawrence Kutner note in their book Grand Theft Childhood, almost all young males play violent video games at least occasionally, it's playing the odds to say Lanza did too. But that has all the predictive power of saying that he sometimes wore sneakers or ate breakfast. In their 2002 evaluation of school shooters, the U.S. Secret Service found no evidence to suggest that these perpetrators consume more media violence than anyone else.


Ferguson cites a number of studies to make his case and provides an angle of clinical insight that struggles to get heard after tragedies like this happen. Head over to and read the whole thing.

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When I was a kid, my friends and I would watch kung fu movies and then beat the shit out of each other until someone cried.

So... fuck you, Chris Ferguson.