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The White House meeting did not, however, include any social scientists who have studied the effects of video games. That would have been too problematic. Decades of research, after all, have failed to find any significant relationship between playing violent video games and behaving violently in real life.

If anything, there may be a stronger connection between school violence and the sort of creative writing educators seek to foster. Video games do not create murderers. With his Thursday meeting, the president was merely engaging in political distraction. And yet Mr. Video games do have a big problem, but it is not stylized virtual violence.

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Rather, it is the bigotry, social abuse, sexism and other toxic behavior to which players too often subject one another when gaming together online. Listen to the voice communications of almost any popular online first-person shooter game and you will hear players constantly using racial and homophobic slurs. In many games, women who speak up on voice communications are routinely mocked and harassed. While researchers have devoted ample time to studying the emotional and psychological effects of virtual video game violence, the actual social behavior of players has largely escaped academic attention.

That should change. More Videos Trump blames video games, movies for violence Story highlights Pediatric group concludes that violent video games increase aggression Alternatively, some research shows that gaming may decrease violence. You see these movies -- they're so violent, and yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn't involved. In Munich, Germany, an year-old gunman who killed nine people in July was a fan of first-person shooter video games, according to reports.

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This detail led many to worry that violent video games may be negatively affecting their own children. Both the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics take a firm stance against children and teens playing violent video games.


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The American Psychological Association observed in an August policy statement that research demonstrated a link "between violent video game use and both increases in aggressive behavior In its July guideline on media violence, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned that violent media set a poor example for kids. Video games, the academy noted, "should not use human or other living targets or award points for killing, because this teaches children to associate pleasure and success with their ability to cause pain and suffering to others.

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Overall, the academy's summary of the results from more than studies revealed a "significant" link between being exposed to violent media in general and aggressive behavior, aggressive thoughts and angry feelings. These clear, no-nonsense arguments appeal to many parents. However, they may not represent the views of the entire field.

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Some social scientists have come up with more unexpected results. Whitney DeCamp, an associate professor of sociology at Western Michigan University, says the evidence points to either no relationship between playing video games and violent behavior or an "insignificant" link between the two.

Screen violence -- real and fictional -- harmful for kids, experts say. Sure, he said, some studies have revealed a connection between kids playing violent video games and violent behavior.


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But there is a problem with "looking at those two things in a vacuum": Kids who like to play brutal video games may have a predisposition toward aggression, he said.