Violent video games may make kids more comfortable handling guns
A team of researchers designed an experiment to investigate how exposure to weapons in video games may influence the behavior of children when they find a real gun.
Children between the ages of 8 and 12 were assigned to 1 of 3 versions of the popular video game Minecraft. The first was violent with guns used to kill monsters, the second was violent with swords used to kill monsters, and the third version was nonviolent with no weapons or monsters.
Next, the children played with other toys in a room that also contained two disabled handguns in a cabinet. The investigation was focused on 220 children who found one of the guns while playing.
The study revealed that 62 percent of the children who played the Minecraft game with gun violence touched one of the handguns, 57 percent of the children who played the game with sword violence touched a gun, and about 44 percent of the children who played the nonviolent version touched a gun.
While these differences were not very significant, children exposed to violent versions of the video game were also found to be more likely to engage in the dangerous behavior of pointing the gun and pulling the trigger either at themselves or at another child.
The researchers acknowledged that the study was limited by the artificial setting of a university laboratory. In addition, Minecraft is not a typical violent game with blood and gore because the team could not ethically expose children to an age-inappropriate game.
The study authors encourage gun owners to secure their firearms and reduce children’s exposure to violent video games.
The research is published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
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