The Institute of Medicine, at the request of the Centers for Disease Control, is preparing to launch a new round of research into the influence of videogames and other media on gun violence.
In January, U.S. President Barack Obama directed the Centers for Disease Control to look into ways to reduce gun violence, and called on Congress to "fund research into the effects that violent videogames have on young minds." To that end, the CDC has asked the Institute for Medicine and the National Research Council to "convene a committee tasked with developing a potential research agenda that focuses on the causes of, possible interventions to, and strategies to minimize the burden of firearm-related violence."
It's a marvelously bureaucratic approach that covers a lot of ground, as explained in the "Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence" report brief released yesterday. The plan is to look into such things as firearm-related violence as a public health issue, risk and protective factors, the impact of gun safety technology and, of course, the influence of videogames and other media.
"While the vast majority of research on the effects of violence in media has focused on violence portrayed in television and movies, more recent research has expanded to include music, videogames, social media and the Internet - outlets that consume more and more of young people's days," the brief states. "However, in more than 50 years of research, no study has focused on firearm violence as a specific outcome of violence in media. As a result, a direct relationship between violence in media and real-life firearm violence has not been established and will require additional research."
Previous studies have examined the link between videogames and violent behavior in general (and have both found and not found a connection, depending on who you ask), so the specificity of this research is unusual and interesting. It's also necessary; an appalling 105,000 people were injured or killed in firearm-related incidents in the U.S. in 2010 alone, according to the brief, which I would say is a powerful sign that it's time to lock this issue down once and for all and then get on with actually dealing with the problem.
Source: Institute of Medicine