Study: Violent Gamers Less Likely to Be Online Haters

Amid the calls for action in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla. -- CNN for one hosted a heated discussion featuring politicians, kids and families of victims -- the head of the Virginia Tech Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention sais a recent study he co-authored found that players of violent video games were less likely to produce online hate material than others.

The center, which describes itself as doing "cross-disciplinary work in violence prevention research, education, and hands-on learning experience," was founded in the wake of the April 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 dead.

Its new research shows that the more that people are exposed to online extremism, the more they become involved in producing it. For example, Reddit and Tumblr users are more likely to produce hate material online than non-users, researcher Jim Hawdon, director of the center and a professor at the university, said of the study.

First-person shooter video game players, on the other hand, were found to be 67% less likely to produce online hate material than nonplayers.

Overall the estimated share of users producing such material has more than doubled from 8.1% in 2013 to 19.8% in 2016.

"[V]iolent video games may serve as an outlet for aggression, not a precursor," Hawdon said.

That has been a long-standing argument from media outlets and video game manufacturers against regulating violent content on screens.

The study was published in the academic journal Violence and Gender.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.