Video games don’t cause mass shootings

No link ever found between violence and video games

The first weekend of August there were two more mass shootings in the United States, making it 22 mass shootings so far in 2019 south of the border.

When commenting on them, U.S. President Donald Trump casually made a comment to the effect that violent video games somehow played a role in the shootings. He didn’t mention mental health issues, or the ease with which someone can acquire a military-style assault weapon in the States.

In 1954 a book called “Seduction of the Innocent” by writer Frederick Wertham, M.D. was published. It claimed that comic books, no matter the content, were to blame for children turning to depravity, violence and crime.

Wertham didn’t by any stretch of the imagination conduct a proper scientific examination of comic books printed by different companies, comparing their content book to book. He didn’t conduct a proper scientific study of children who read comic books, comparing the behaviour of such to children the same age and social class who didn’t read comic books.

Critics later accused Wertham of filling the book with his opinions about comic books (he didn’t like them) rather than proper scientific facts to back up his claim that comic books corrupted children and turned them into violent criminals. This was likely because no such scientific facts have ever surfaced regarding comic books.

Of course, politicians at the time “Seduction of the Innocent” was published grabbed the idea and ran with it, a great excuse to blame pop culture for society’s problems rather than looking at what social conditions, such as poverty, domestic violence and addictions, might be causing children to become delinquents.

In her 2012 study, author Carol L. Tilley noted Wertham “manipulated, overstated, compromised, and fabricated evidence” in support of the contentions expressed in “Seduction of the Innocent” and “He generally did not adhere to standards worthy of scientific research, instead using questionable evidence for his argument that comics were a cultural failure.”

Video games face the same discrimination. Virtually since video games were invited politicians have been trying to blame them for society’s ills, yet no study has ever found ever a causal link between video games, even violent ones, and actual violence.

The Entertainment Software Association, which self-censors and classifies games, pointed out last week that the same violent video games are sold all over the world, including Canada and the United States, but no country in the western world seems to have the same mass shooting problem the States has.

The Associated Press quoted Benjamin Burroughs, professor of emerging media at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, this week as saying, “There are no longitudinal studies that show a link between violence and video games. Certainly, there is no linkage to gun violence.”

Trump’s comments on violent video games shouldn’t surprise anyone, though. They’re typical political misdirection.

It’s not unusual for politicians to find a scapegoat to blame, rather than looking at themselves and thinking, “I have the authority and opportunity to do something about this issue. But I don’t really want negative publicity, or anger any of my financial donors in the firearms industry, so better to blame someone else.”

There is much to be concerned about in American society, but video games shouldn’t be at the top of the president’s list.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

AHS expanding dialysis care at Wetaskiwin Hospital

Service expansion enables more patients to access treatment locally

New exec for Rimbey Chamber of Commerce

Melvin Durand steps down as president

Rural Municipalities president speaks out

Oil and gas companies need to pay their taxes

New Rimbey Legion executive installed

Garreth Jones takes over as president of Rimbey Legion

Mentors needed

Big Brothers Big Sisters reach out to community

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

UPDATE: Sylvan Lake RCMP say missing female located

19-year-old Alyssa Manderville was last seen in Blackfalds on Jan. 26

Ryan Jake Applegarth, 27, charged with First Degree Murder

RCMP Major Crimes Unit seeking male wanted on first degree murder charge

Watch out for scams, clickbait in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death: Better Business Bureau

Kobe Bryant and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles

Despite reports of decline, birds flocking to national parks in Canadian Rockies

Recent studies suggest overall bird population has slid by three billion since 1970

Pregnant B.C. woman stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak

Woman is due to give birth in Wuhan, China unless she can get out

Majority of Canadian boards had no female members in 2016 and 2017: StatCan

Statistics Canada says 18.1 per cent of director seats were held by women in 2017

VAUGHAN: Childhood heroes like Kobe are supposed to be immortal

Kobe Bryant tragically passed away in a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of nine people

Most Read