Mike Ward understands why people might think violent video games can lead to acts of violence. But the science just doesn’t support it.
The economics professor just published a new study with data from more than 15,000 adolescents that shows no link, or perhaps a negative link, between violent video games and acts of violence. Dr. Ward’s longitudinal study examines data from a nationally representative sample of adolescents in grades 7-12 in the U.S. between April-December 1995. The participants were followed into young adulthood with four waves of in-home interviews, the last conducted when participants were ages 24 to 32.
“This is my fourth analysis using a fourth methodology and a fourth dataset on actual outcomes that finds no violent effects from video games,” he says. “It is remarkable how consistent these findings are.”
Some policymakers and elected officials have decried how playing these violent video games leads to acts of violence, especially following many of the multitude of mass shootings the United States has experienced.
On the contrary, Ward says video game development is among the fastest- evolving forms of human expression.
“It’s difficult to imagine the experiences that video games developed over just the next few decades will provide,” he says. “One consequence of a policy aimed at restricting content could be to stifle this explosion in creativity.”