Following the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT and a subsequent NRA conference that implicated video games as a major part of the problem, the national conversation has turned toward just how much media violence impacts young minds. According to some experts, the research is far too inconclusive.
"This is a pool of research that, so far, has not been very well done," Christopher J. Ferguson, associate professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M, told the New York Times. "I look at it and I can’t say what it means." Ferguson's own research has found no link.
Other researchers cited in the report agree, at least to an extent. Craig A. Anderson, a psychologist at Iowa State University, says that "violent media is one factor; it's not the largest factor, but it's also not the smallest." Meanwhile, Michael R. Ward, an economist at the University of Texas, has found that higher rates of violent game sales have coincided with a lower rate in violent crime, in communities with high concentrations of young people like college towns.
The studied consensus might be encouraging, but video games are also battling public opinion. A recent poll among Republican voters found that between guns and video games, 67% believe games are a bigger "safety threat." Only 14% believed guns are the larger threat.