The idea that violent video games generate violence in real life has
had social currency for years; it's now widely accepted enough that it
turns up as a truism in unrelated articles
But Harvard economist Lawrence Katz believes that video games may
actually depress the violent-crime rate by keeping people occupied in a
peaceful manner. As David Leonhardt
put it in a recent New York Times
Video games can not only provide hours of entertainment.
They can also give people -- especially young men, who play more than
their fair share of video games and commit more than their fair share
of crimes -- an outlet for frustration that doesn't involve actual
violence. Video games obviously have many unfortunate side effects.
They can promote obsessive, antisocial behavior and can make violent
situations seem ordinary. But might video games also have an upside?
I'm willing to consider the idea.
Katz admits that his findings
are far from conclusive, though Leonhardt goes on to note that another
study drew a similar link between violent movies and the suppression of
real-life violence in 2008. Either way, Katz's theory is sure to be of
interest to parents or lawmakers with a stake in the video-game regulation question
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