Even as questions about the relationship between violent video games and shootings have been asked with growing urgency, a dearth of good data has made it difficult to draw any definitive conclusions.
In a study published study in the JAMA Network on Friday, researchers from Ohio State University claim to have found a link.
“This is one of the first studies to show a relationship between violent video games and the risk for gun violence," the study's author, Brad Bushman, told ABC News.
To conduct the study, researchers brought in a group of children between the ages of 8 to 12, and split them into different groups. Some played a more violent version of a video game using either a sword or a gun, while others played a nonviolent version of the same video game. After 20 minutes, the children were placed in pairs and assigned to a play room, where there was a variety of toys and games. To simulate a gun being hidden in the home, two unloaded guns were placed in cabinets in the same play room.
The children were video recorded during the entire encounter, and researchers observed their behavior.
Researchers concluded that there was a “direct relationship between children who played the more violent version of the video game and unsafe gun behaviors."
"These children were more likely to touch a gun, spend a longer time holding the gun, pull the trigger, and pull the trigger towards oneself or others,” compared to the children who played the nonviolent version of the game, they said.
Children who played the violent version of the game were observed pointing the gun at themselves or another person more than those who played the non-violent version of the game, Bushman said.
Joe Hilgard, a professor at Illinois State University who also studies video games and aggressive behavior, said that he reviewed Bushman’s study and doesn’t believe the data represents as strong a relationship between guns and violence as indicated in the study.
“Yes, families should make firearms less accessible to children,” he said.
The National Rifle Association provides The Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program that teaches young children safety procedures to follow if they encounter a gun.
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Urban Health https://www.thetrace.org/rounds/study-american-children-unlocked-loaded-gun-storage/Your text to link... that 4.6 million American children live in a home where at least one gun is kept loaded and unlocked.
Tiffany Best, MD is a child and adolescent psychiatrist from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, working with the ABC News Med unit.