WMU researcher: Mass shootings not sparked by violent video games

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Both President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy cited violent video games as one of the reasons behind mass shootings in the U.S, but a Western Michigan University professor who’s studied the possible link says that’s far from the case.

Professor Whitney DeCamp has been researching violence and video games for years and says he generally found little to no effect on behavior.

It’s still not immediately clear if video games played any role in the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio which killed at least 31 people.

DeCamp found that before reaching high school, more than 90 percent of boys will have played violent video games. Considering the prevalence, DeCamp says finding that a shooter played violent video games is not a personality trait that sets them apart from the vast majority of players who do not act violently.

“This is not an effect, that is causing these things. Mass shootings are not the result of playing violent video games. In criminology, we have a lot of theories that can explain why people engage in violence. The more common explanation is they’ve been exposed to violence in real life — in their own personal lives, social environment, maybe in their own home. That’s one of the bigger factors in predicting future violence,” explained DeCamp.

The WMU professor also says his research suggests playing violent video games can even have a beneficial impact. Kids who play are often more interested in computer science or more comfortable with technology and computers, he said.

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