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A screenshot from the popular Call of Duty games. A screenshot from the popular Call of Duty games.  

Do video games cause mass shootings? Experts weigh in

Not all psychologists agree. Brad Bushman, a communications professor at  Ohio State University who also studies video game violence, said that although a link between violent behavior and video games has not yet been demonstrated, video games do promote aggression.

“We can never know if violent video games cause people to commit violent crimes because this requires researchers to use experimental studies, and researchers cannot give their participants guns and knives and see what they will do,” he wrote in an email to The DC News Foundation. “However, 45 experimental studies involving 3,464 participants have shown that violent video games cause people to behave more aggressively.”

Regardless of whether or not video games make the players more aggressive, mass shooters are no more likely to play them than anyone else, said Ferguson.

“There’s never been any evidence to emerge that mass shooters consume more media violence than anybody else,” he said.

Ferguson is suspicious of the timing of the recent national conversation about violent media. He thinks policymakers might be succumbing to “moral panic,” blaming a social problem on a convenient, misunderstood scapegoat.

“It’s not a bad idea to debate the issue of violent game violence, but [the Sandy Hook shooting] was a bad reason to restart the debate all of a sudden,” he said. “There is nothing coming out of Sandy Hook that would necessarily say that now is the time to have this debate.”

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