Violent video games don't cause real-life violence, says APA

The APA's latest statement calls for continuing study into the effects of video game violence, particularly its effects over time.

Sam Klein | Mar 15, 2020

When kids bring firearms to school and go on murdering sprees, grownups are often quick to pin some of the blame on violence in video games. But the American Psychological Association officially disagrees with this: In a statement this week, the APA said that there is "insufficient evidence to support a causal link" between video-game violence and actual violent behavior.

"Violence is a complex social problem that likely stems from many factors that warrant attention from researchers, policy makers and the public. Attributing violence to violent video gaming is not scientifically sound and draws attention away from other factors," the group said in the statement.

The APA's statement is a clarification to the position it took in 2015, when it passed a resolution stating that research "confirms the link between violent video games and aggression." This aggression could take the form of "insults, threats, hitting, pushing, hair pulling," and even "biting," according to the APA.

The group stands by the 2015 assessment, but it distinguishes these aggressive behaviors from criminal-level "lethal violence"--i.e., school shootings or homicides. These more extreme violent acts have many potential causal factors, said APA President Sandra Shullman, adding that focusing on video game violence is a "distraction" from examining more important root causes.

The APA's latest statement calls for continuing study into the effects of video game violence, particularly its effects over time. The group also suggests further research into whether kids' gender, ethnicity, cultural background, and social class affect the degree to which violence in video games influences their behavior.