New research published by the American Psychological Association has found that people are more likely to blame violent video games as a cause of school shootings. These tragedies have proliferated in recent years.

The study analyzed more than 200,000 news articles about 204 mass shootings over a 40-year period. It concluded that video games were eight times more likely to be mentioned when the shooting occurred at a school. Most of the perpetrators were white males.

Dead By Daylight

The world woke up on May 25 to devastating news. An 18-year-old shot and killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Soon after the incident, the gunman was shot dead by responding officers. The incident shocked the country and the global community at large. It also reignited several debates that have been raging for years.

Reports emerged that the deranged mass shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, hinted at his plan to gun down schoolchildren in a verbal rant after losing a violent video game. Ramos lost the video game Dead by Daylight just hours before the carnage at Robb Elementary School. Dead by Daylight is a multiplayer survival horror and action game.

Virtual Worlds

Meeta Nagpal is the secretary of Snehi, an organization for psychological support and mental healthcare based in Delhi. She notes that we live in two worlds in contemporary times: the physical and the virtual. There is a very thin line dividing the two. It is extremely difficult for the young mind to differentiate and to change emotions according to the world they are living in at that moment of time, she says.

“In my personal opinion violent video games cause warped psychology among young adults leading to vicious incidents. These games are interactive and the  player slowly identifies himself with the aggressor. The young adult mind is impressionable And these video games increase aggressive thoughts, aggressive effect and in some cases extreme aggressive behavior,” says Nagpal.

Warped Psychology

Dr Chandni Tugnait is a psychotherapist and Founder of the Gateway of Healing in Haryana. She says that not all young adults who play violent video games will become warped in their psychology. But it is worth noting that there are generally more shares linking violent video game play to negative outcomes than positive ones.

“However, playing violent video games does not cause people to develop warped psychology. There are many things to consider when looking at this question,” she opines.

Agents Of Imitation

However, Sanchi Kapoor, a wellness and psychological counselor, goes on to draw a correlation between aggressive behavior and virtual reality. “As rightly quoted, ‘Monkey  see, monkey do.’ Young minds learn from models all around them, be it social reality or virtual reality. Whether or not they demonstrate a new behavior, they are picking up new knowledge.”

According to Kapoor, one of the trending agents of imitation these days is video games. Many are very violent. Nearly all young people now are involved in video games. Their popularity has driven concerns about the possible negative effects of this recreational activity.

Virtual Rehearsals For Actual Violence

Dr. Minakshi Manchanda, of Asian Hospital Faridabad echoes these thoughts. “Studies have shown that violent video games are more harmful than TV shows and movies. They are interactive and encourage role-playing. They may serve as virtual rehearsals for actual violence. They boost the body’s fight or flight response, increase aggressive thoughts and feelings and decrease pro social and empathetic behavior.”

“These violent games desensitize players to violence, reward them for simulating violence and teach children that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflicts,” says Manchanda.

Dr. Tugnait notes that people who are predisposed to violence or aggression may be more likely to play violent video games. This doesn’t mean that the games cause them to be violent, but rather that there is a correlation between the two, she says.

Increased Aggression And Hostility

She also states that it is important to remember that video games are just one form of entertainment, and they should be enjoyed in moderation. Too much of anything can be bad, and that includes violent video games.

“Having said that, an addiction to any sort of video games can cause the child to cut off socially thereby leading to lesser communication, suppressed emotions, increased aggression and hostility. It can reduce empathy and pro-social behavior,” says Tugnait.

But not all studies blame video games for aggression among young adults. In fact, research led by Aaron Drummond from New Zealand’s Massey University, re-examined 28 studies from previous years that looked at the link between aggressive behavior and video gaming. The study found minuscule positive correlation between gaming and aggression. The report was  published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Umang Sharma is a media professional, avid reader and film buff. He has worked as a journalist for over 12 years and is addicted to breaking news! He enjoys researching and writing about socio-political,...