TAMIU Professor Publishes Research on Media Influence on Kids, Young Adults

TAMIU Professor Publishes Research
on Media Influences on Children and Young Adults

There is no link between playing violent video games and increased likelihood of mass school homicides, says an expert on the effects of video games on children and adults.

In his report, Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson, Texas A&M International University assistant professor of psychology, surveyed the information on school shooters, including data from United States and United Kingdom governments, as well as research on violent video games. He concludes that there is no significant relationship between violent video game exposure and school shooting incidents.
“School shooting perpetrators do not appear to have a history of playing violent video games that is particularly noteworthy,” Dr. Ferguson said.

This information is important as many parents are trying to stretch their entertainment budget. Last year, video game sales rose to a record $5.3 billion, according to market research firm NPD Group.

“Although much speculation persists regarding the role of violent video games and school shootings, this speculation is seldom based on factual evidence,” Ferguson wrote in “The School Shooting/Violent Video Game Link: Causal Relationship or Moral Panic?” in the December 2008 “Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling.”

“The wealth of evidence, from social science research on video games, to governmental reports and legal cases, to real-world data on crime, fails to establish a link between violent video games and violent crimes, including school shootings. The link has not merely been unproven. The wealth of available data simply weighs against any causal relationship,” he continued.

“There simply is no quality evidence for the predictive value of violent game exposure as a risk factor for school shootings,” Ferguson stated.

In a previous study, Ferguson found that family violence exposure, not video game violence, is predictive of violent criminal acts.

“Personality, Parental, and Media Influences on Aggressive Personality and Violent Crime in Young Adults” examined the contributions of gender and personality, exposure to physical abuse and violence in the family, and exposure to media violence in both television and in video games on violent criminal activity.

That study concluded that exposure to television and video game violence were not significant predictors of violent crime.

“When an individual high in violence proneness decides to act violently, he or she may then emulate violence that he or she has seen in the media, although the violent act would still have occurred had the media been removed from the equation, just in a different form. Thus a predilection for media violence is caused by a developed personality style (itself caused by genetics and family violence) rather than vice versa,” added Ferguson.

“Personality, Parental, and Media Influences on Aggressive Personality and Violent Crime in Young Adult” was published in the December 2008 “Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma.”

For more information, contact Ferguson at 326.2636 or cferguson@tamiu.edu or visit offices in Dr. F. M. Canseco Hall, room 312F.

University office hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.

Download articles (PDF):

“The School Shooting/Violent Video Game Link: Causal Relationship or Moral Panic?”

“Personality, Parental, and Media Influences on Aggressive Personality and Violent Crime
in Young Adults”


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