Do Video Games Inspire Violent Behavior?

Posted on June 20, 2015

On the morning of August 12, 2013, nearly eight months after 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and killed 26 people, Michael Mudry, an investigator with the Connecticut State Police, drove to nearby Danbury to try to solve a little mystery. Police had found a Garmin GPS unit in Lanza's house, and its records showed that the gunman had driven to the same spot nine times in April, May and June 2012, arriving around midnight each time and staying for hours.

The GPS readout took Mudry to the vast parking lot of a suburban shopping center, about 14 miles west of Lanza's home. Workers at a movie theater there immediately recognized Lanza from a photograph. He was at the theater constantly, they told Mudry, but never to see movies. He came to the lobby to play an arcade game, the same one, over and over again, sometimes for eight to 10 hours a night. Witnesses said he would whip himself into a frenzy, and on occasion the theater manager had to unplug the game to get him to leave.

The title that so consumed the Sandy Hook shooter? Dance Dance Revolution—an arcade staple that has players dance on colored squares to the rhythm of Asian techno-pop. That discovery not only surprised investigators, it also was at odds with overheated speculation in the media and around dinner tables that violent video games had helped turn Lanza into a killer.

Yet no one knows how any of these games—Dance Dance Revolution included—might have affected a kid who was clearly struggling. The truth is that decades of research have turned up no reliable causal link between playing violent video games and perpetrating actual violence.

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Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Child Development

Source material from Scientific American

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