In the wake of the Winnenden school shootings earlier this year, German politicians are proposing a total ban on the production and distribution of violent video-games.
The widespread public acceptance of this causal relationship mirrors the moral panic over so-called ‘video-nasties’ in the 1980s, famously but incorrectly implicated in the murder of toddler James Bulger.
These ‘common-sense’ attributions are based on Bandura’s social learning theory, which suggests that children can be socialised to become violent simply through witnessing violent behaviour.
Despite numerous studies, however, there is a lack conclusive evidence to support such a connection in the case of violent video-games. Indeed, a recent European Union report suggests that rather than being universally harmful, such games may in fact actually be of benefit to children.
This corresponds with the conclusions of the Byron report, which was comissioned by the United Kingdom government in order to examine technological risks to children.
News of the proposed ban from GamePolitics
The Times links shootings to games
The report of the Byron Review
The European parliament report
Ferguson, C. J. (2009). Research on the Effects of Violent Video Games: A Critical Analysis
Giles, D. & Shaw, R. L. (2009). The Psychology of News Influence and the Development of Media Framing Analysis