It’s time to call the “relationship between videogames and violence” for what it is: an urban myth

In Spain, without going any further, about 50% of the entire population plays video games . We do not have exact data on how many of these games are violent, but if we look at countries around us, we see that in places like the United Kingdom two thirds of British teenagers are regular users of violent video games (50% in the case of women).

It is not an isolated case, the figures are repeated in most countries where we have data following a trend that goes back more than a decade : as the video game industry grows, users of violent games grow .

Just because of that tendency, the relationship between videogames and violence is critical . It is not surprising, then, that public opinion is very divided on that issue. Above all, because historically the research we have at our disposal has been full of biases , poor quality studies and conflicts of interest . But that debate is over, it’s already solved. Why is it so hard to take it for granted?

Violence, video games and vice versa This week the Oxford Internet Institute and the University of Cardiff have published a study on the relationship between videogames and teen violence that has brought the issue back to the fore. The study is interesting because it is pre-registered and has a considerable sample (1004 adolescents and their caregivers). In addition, they have tried to control some strange variables that affected previous investigations.

History of the moral panic to the videojuegos in 9 appointments of yesterday and of today
However, it contributes little to the general debate. It remains an observational study with a design that would hardly have served to prove anything. Not in one way or another. The conclusions, moreover, have been that there is no direct relationship between the use of violent games and the aggressiveness of children, adolescents and young people in general.

Closed debate It does not contribute anything because the academic consensus on this topic is simple: currently there is no available evidence that connects violence and videogames. In fact, professional organizations have long recommended that this urban myth of public debate be banished. Many social researchers connect this social concern with the recurrent moral panics that have accompanied us for 60 or 70 years .

We take biases from home . The study has not been that interesting, of course. As psychologist Netta Weinstein of Cardiff University explained, her “findings suggest that the inclinations of researchers influence previous studies and distort our understanding of the effects of video games.” Reading this, the works of the 2000s (almost 20 years ago!) That delve into the problem in a problematic way come to mind .

No, no and no But if we take the best research on the subject , the only conclusion (as in the case of pornography) is the opposite of what concerns us : in any case, the popularity of the games correlates with decreases in the violence (and not with increases). As Christian Ferguson , one of the world’s leading experts on the subject, puts it , “any claim that there is consistent evidence that violent video games encourage aggression is simply false.”

Until there is new data, the topic is more than closed. It is better not to give more laps . A troubled river, gain of fishermen .