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But there also is some evidence that the same type of fast-paced violent games can improve some types of spatial-visual skills, basically, ability to extract visual information from a computer screen.

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Thus, a healthy, well-adjusted person with few risk factors is not going to become a school-shooter just because they start playing a lot of violent video games or watching a lot of violent movies.”One of Anderson’s colleagues at Iowa State University, Douglas Gentile, Ph D, Associate Professor of Psychology, along with Brad Bushman, Ph D, Professor of Communication and Psychology at Ohio State University and Professor of Communication Science at the VU University in Amsterdam, recently published a study that identifies media exposure as 1 of the 6 risk factors for predicting later aggression in 430 children (aged 7 to 11, grades 3 to 5) from Minnesota schools.

Other analysts have argued that a possible causal factor may relate to the young killers’ obsessions with violent imagery in video games and movies that led them to depersonalize their victims. Writing about the Colorado tragedy in a July 20 magazine essay, Christopher Ferguson, Ph D, Interim Chair and Associate Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology and Communication at Texas A&M International University, argued there is currently no scientific proof that the mass homicides can be explained, even in part, by violent entertainment. A 2002 report by the US Secret Service and the US Department of Education, which examined 37 incidents of targeted school shootings and school attacks from 1974 to 2000 in this country, found that “over half of the attackers demonstrated some interest in violence through movies, video games, books, and other media.”In a 2009 Policy Statement on Media Violence, the American Academy of Pediatrics said, “Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed.”This year, the Media Violence Commission of the International Society for Research on Aggression (ISRA) in its report on media violence said, “Over the past 50 years, a large number of studies conducted around the world have shown that watching violent television, watching violent films, or playing violent video games increases the likelihood for aggressive behavior.” for instance, published a comprehensive meta-analysis of violent video game effects and concluded that the “evidence strongly suggests that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and aggressive affect and for decreased empathy and prosocial behavior.”In a interview, psychologist Craig Anderson, Ph D, Director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University, said the evidence for the media violence–aggression link is very strong from every major type of study design: randomized experiments, cross-sectional correlation studies, and longitudinal studies.

While the vast majority of individuals afflicted with a psychotic disorder do not commit violence, Tanay said, “some mass killings have been perpetrated by people who are psychotic.”He cited the example of Seung-Hui Cho, a student who in 2007 shot to death 32 students and faculty of Virginia Tech, wounded 17 more, and then killed himself. Twenty years ago he would have been committed to a state hospital. In 2007, Anderson’s group reported on a longitudinal study of violent video games.

Besides media violence, the remaining risk factors are bias toward hostility, low parental involvement, participant sex, physical victimization, and prior physical fights.

Knowing students’ risk for aggression can help school officials determine which students might be more likely to get in fights or possibly bully other students, according to Gentile, who runs the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University.

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