Myths About Video Gaming


Whenever there is a public tragedy involving mass scale violence, modernity predicts video games will get a bad rap. It reminds me of they way records and books were once targeted as inciting evil in young people. Remember record and book burnings? Here are some fun facts that debunk some popular myths about the use of video games from

“Video game popularity and real-world youth violence have been moving in opposite directions. Violent juvenile crime in the United States reached a peak in 1993 and has been declining since. Between 1994 and 2004, arrests for murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assaults fell 49 percent, resulting in the lowest juvenile arrest rate for violent crimes since at least 1980. Murder arrests, which reached a high of 3,790 in 1993, plummeted 71% to 1,110 by 2004.”

“Our survey of more than 1200 middle school students found that 29 percent of girls who played video games listed at least one M-rated game among the games they’d “played a lot” during the previous six months. One in five specifically listed a Grand Theft Autogame. In fact, among these 12- to 14-year-old girls, the Grand Theft Auto series was second only to The Sims in popularity.”

“The official report of the Virginia Tech Review Panel specifically dismissed the purported links between Cho’s use of video games and his extremely violent behavior. In the chapter on Cho’s mental health history, video games are mentioned on only three pages. When he was nine years old, “he was enrolled in a Tae Kwon Do program for awhile, watched TV, and played video games likeSonic the Hedgehog. None of the video games were war games or had violent themes.” (p. 32) In college, “Cho’s roommate never saw him play video games.” (p. 42) During his senior year of college, his roommate “never saw him play a video game, which he thought strange since he and most other students play them.” (p. 51)”

“The allegation that “perpetrators go unpunished in 73 percent of all violent scenes” is based on research from the mid-1990s that looked at selected television programs, not video games The U. S. Secret Service intensely studied each of the 37 non-gang and non-drug-related school shootings and stabbings that were considered “targeted attacks” that took place nationally from 1974 through 2000. (Note how few premeditated school shootings there actually were during that 27-year time period, compared with the public perception of those shootings as relatively common events!) The incidents studied included the most notorious school shootings, such as Columbine, Santee and Paducah, in which the young perpetrators had been linked in the press to violent video games. The Secret Service found that that there was no accurate profile. Only 1 in 8 school shooters showed any interest in violent video games; only 1 in 4 liked violent movies.”



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