The American Psychological Association has determined that “there is insufficient scientific evidence to support a causal link between violent video games and violent behavior” including the likes of mass shootings. This seems to contradict a resolution published by the APA in August of 2015, which has since been cited by policymakers and the media (and uh… the President of the United States) as evidence that there was some connection between violent video games and violent behavior, including mass shootings.
The APA’s governing Council of Representatives assembled a task force to review that 2015 resolution and the outcome is that blaming video games for violent behavior is not “scientifically sound,” and ignores other pertinent factors. It was stressed that violence is a complicated issue and shouldn’t be pinned on one influence.
As APA President Sandra L. Shullman, Ph.D. stated:
“Violence is a complex social problem that likely stems from many factors that warrant attention from researchers, policymakers and the public. Attributing violence to video gaming is not scientifically sound and draws attention away from other factors, such as a history of violence, which we know from the research is a major predictor of future violence.”
On March 1, the task force updated the 2015 report to indicate “that there is a small, reliable association between violent video game use and aggressive outcomes, such as yelling and pushing. However, these research findings are difficult to extend to more violent outcomes.”
The APA doesn’t let the video game industry off the hook entirely. The body continues to work with the gaming industry to establish strong parental controls, and to refine the rating system “to reflect the levels and characteristics of violence in these games.” The APA will also continue to work with schools and community leaders regarding this subject.
So according to these findings, there IS some connection between violent gaming and aggression and some violent behavior, but as… well, everyone knows, video games aren’t the reason why people go on mass killing sprees.
If you would like to read the APA’s entire report, you can find it here.