When something horrible happens, we struggle to put a "why" to it. And, sadly, for months many parents have been forced to ponder why Adam Lanza decided to walk into an elementary school and viciously take so many innocent lives in Newtown, Conneticut.
News outlets are now reporting that the shooter, who was just 20, may have been trying to top the murder count committed by Anders Breivik, the Norwegian gunman who killed 77 people — many teens — at a summer camp and during a bombing in 2011. According to NBC News, that motive is 'mere speculation' at this point, but CBS News adds that Lanza may have also been "acting out the fantasies of a video game." Law enforcement officials tell CBS they found a "trove" of video games in a private basement room with blacked-out windows in which Lanza spent hours alone playing shooting games.
Now, I'm not one who believes heavy metal music causes otherwise innocent children to attack their parents. And I don't think playing a first-person shooter video game is the root of evil, either. But are my children allowed to spend hours in the basement going on violent, graphic video game rampages? Absolutely not. And it's time all parents take a stand against that sort of behaviour.
Look, there may not be a direct link between video games and gun violence. A study published last year in the Journal of Psychiatric Research concluded that "depression, antisocial personality traits, exposure to family violence and peer influences were the best predictors of aggression-related outcomes," the Washington Post reports. But there also is plenty of research to support the opposite view. of Ohio State University Professor Brad Bushman that notes that while video games alone may not be the ultimate reason behind gun violence "it shouldn't be dismissed as a trivial cause either," the Post adds.
Bushman's research found playing violent games — think Call of Duty 4 or Condemned 2 — over longer time frames can lead to aggressive behavior, according to HealthDay. "Playing video games could be compared to smoking cigarettes," he told the news service. "A single cigarette won't cause lung cancer, but smoking over weeks or months or years greatly increases the risk. In the same way, repeated exposure to violent video games may have a cumulative effect on aggression."