Are Video Games Really Making Us More Violent?

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 3 years old.

We’ve all heard that violent video games make you violent, but is it true? Our host Myles Bess and PBS NewsHour Student Reporters from Etiwanda High School in Southern California dive deep into the research to get a better understanding of the debate.

TEACHERS: Guide your students to practice civil discourse about current topics and get practice writing CER (claim, evidence, reasoning) responses. Explore lesson supports.

Are violent videos to blame for mass shootings in America?

Often times after tragic mass shooting, we hear politicians turn the blame to violent video games, but the reality is that the research doesn’t really support that claim. There’s little scientific evidence to suggest that playing violent video games leads to mass homicide or violence in real life. Instead the debate in the research field is about the role violent video games plays on more minor levels of aggression.

Do violent video games increase aggression?

In 2015, the American Psychological Association did a huge review of the literature on violent video games and behavior, and concluded that violent video games is associated with increases in aggressive behavior and thoughts and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy, and sensitivity to aggression. But there is considerable debate in the field about the influence violent video games has on different forms of aggression. And it’s important to understand that there’s a difference between violence and aggression.


What’s the difference between violence and aggression?

In general, violence usually refers to physical harm or physical acts that hurt someone– like hitting, kicking, punching, and pushing. Aggression is a more broad term that refers to angry or hostile thoughts, feelings or behaviors. So everything that is violent is aggressive, but not everything that is aggressive is violent. For example, getting frustrated, yelling, talking back, arguing those are all aggressive behaviors, but they aren’t violent. The research on the effects of violent video games and behavior often looks at these milder forms of aggressive behavior.


Societal Violence and Video Games: Public Statements of a Link are Problematic:

Technical Report on the Review of the Violent Video Game Literature: Do violent video games make kids more violent?

Do Violent Video Games Trigger Aggression?

Do Violent Video Games Contribute to Youth Violence?

Why Video Games Aren’t Causing America’s Gun Problem in One Chart: