It’s Not the Video Games

Dr. Aaron Carroll, an associate professor of Pediatrics and the associate director of Children’s Health Services Research at Indiana University School of Medicine, states in his December 19th “the Incidental Economist Blog” that he cannot prove that a video game hasn’t upset or made some child somewhere more violent. But he goes on to say that we’re having an awfully hard time detecting the relationship if it’s there. Video games are incredibly prevalent. When Call of Duty: Black Ops II was released a couple weeks ago, it did more than $1 billion in sales in 15 days. That’s one game. These things are popular. If they were going to make kids violent, we’d see it at a population level. Instead, we’re seeing the opposite. Games are rated. Kids shouldn’t be able to buy them if they’re too young. Parents should get involved with these decisions. It’s a good idea for parents to play them with their kids. Even I – who love these things – have rules about what my kids can play. But I’ll be honest. I think I’m far more likely to let my kids play some of these games than to watch the news. I understand why some people don’t like violent video games. I also understand why some people don’t like violent movies or TV shows. But before you start talking about censorship, I want to see some proof. I worry that if you decide (with no good evidence) that you don’t like my video games, and want them gone, then next you’ll come for my movies. Then, maybe, you’ll decide you need to come for my books. That will not do.

A number of you have taken exception to my defending video games against charges of causing violence. You’re sure I’m wrong. When I come up against deep-seated beliefs like these, I’ve learned it’s often a waste of time to try and convince you with studies. But here are some facts nonetheless.