Police have reportedly found thousands of dollars worth of violent video games belonging to Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooter Adam Lanza in the home he shared with his mother. And police say they will never even know the full extent of his violent video game obsession because he destroyed his computer's hard drive before his horrific murder spree. But reportedly police believe he may have been "reenacting" some of the scenes from the video games he loved so much when he burst into the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school and killed 20 students and six adults.
I personally do not believe violent video games -- or movies or song lyrics or anything else -- can cause anyone to kill. Not in and of themselves. It takes a variety of causes and elements to interact in the mind to cause someone to kill -- especially to get to the point where you are mass killing complete strangers who did nothing to you.
Reportedly Adam Lanza was on the austism spectrum and may have had Asperger's Syndrome, which experts say doesn't predispose anyone to violence. (He also reportedly had "sensory integration disorder" and could only tolerate being touched by his mother.) However, combine whatever mental illness Adam may or may not have had with a obsessive fantasy world wherein killing is the order of the day, and it could tip someone over into a dark realm where killing becomes something that not only the person is desensitized to, but is glorified.
Plenty of studies have shown that images of violence make children act out in more hostile and aggressive ways -- at least in the short term. Hell, do your own experiment. Watch a violent movie or video game and then walk outside. How do you feel about the people around you? How aggressive is your driving? Now meditate for half an hour or take a bubble bath while listening to soft music and do the same thing.
Let's say you're in a room a disturbed person who has a gun. And you have to sit in a room with this person for a week. Would you prefer that person play violent video games or listen to soothing classical music and watch uplifting, inspirational images on a computer. You get to choose. How many of you are going to choose the first? In fact, how many murderous young men have we heard of who who were obsessed with Mozart, Buddha, rescuing animals and watching light romantic comedies? What do soldiers listen to when they are at war? It's not Handel or Celine Dion.
Violent games may not cause violence, but a mind does. And what goes into that mind is of extreme importance. Think about that when you decide what goes into the mind of your children.
Do you think violent videogames played any kind of role here?
Image via Marcin Wichary/Flickr