KALAMAZOO, Mich. — President Donald Trump on Thursday will convene a meeting with video game industry leaders at the White House that will focus on whether violent video games contribute to real-world violence in the United States.
This comes after several school threats following last month's deadly high school shooting in Florida.
Western Michigan Unviersity Sociology Professor and Criminologist Whitney DeCamp says Trump would be making a mistake to correlate video game violence and school shootings.
DeCamp has done his own extensive research on the topic, which includes five studies on video games, three of which focus on the relationship between violent video game content and behavior. His research finds playing violent video games doesn't result in physical acts of violence.
“The people who are playing violent video games are already different from people who aren't before they even start playing violent video games,” Decamp said.
DeCamp’s findings show the stronger prediction of violent behavior is connecting to the parent-child relationship.
“Whether they have strong attachment to their parents, whether they're not having a safe environment, whether or not they see violence at home,” DeCamp said.
Michelle Zukowski-Serlin, a Kalamazoo based child and family therapist, agrees.
“An instigator of violence is growing up in a home with violence. I’ve never had someone come in and say I’m concerned about my kid watching violent video games,” Serlin said.
The President has suggested rating both games and movies for violence, but such ratings already exist for more than two decades. The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that selling violent video games are protected by the First Amendment.
“The Supreme Court agreed there’s not any research supporting a connection with violence and because of that there's no justification to take away their right to buy video games,” DeCamp said.
DeCamp says research shows people who play video games may be less likely to shoot or engage in mass shootings. He points to the case of the 2007 Virginia Tech campus shooter.
“Initially there were a lot of reports of a lot of video games being presented. In depth reports later found he owned no video games, the only video game he played was Sonic Hedgehog as a small child,” DeCamp said.
Members of the Electronic Software Association, the lobbying arm of the video game industry, will attend the White House meeting. It contends there is no proven link between video games and violent crime or behavior.