Ever since media — which includes video games, movies, television shows, and news coverage — began allowing a higher level of violence, the debate began on whether the exposure in children could desensitize them, ultimately causing them to be more violent in the future. One recent study performed at Texas A&M International University shows that media does not, in fact, play a role in violence level in later years.
Lead researcher Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson, associate professor of psychology and chairperson of the university, says of the highly-debated topic: “People may object morally to some of the content that exists in the media, but the question is whether the media can predict criminal behavior. The answer seems to be no.”
The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health found that it is not just one factor that will determine whether or not a person will have violent tendencies, but of all of the elements that can lead to the behavior, exposure to media is not one of them. The most predominant factors that can be predictors of future criminal behavior include genetics, socioeconomic status, and the child’s environment among family and their peers. Genetics appear to play the largest role in a child’s likelihood of engaging in criminal or violent behavior, with genetic variance factoring into 20% of women and 58% of men.
Dr. Ferguson says of the findings,”We basically find that genetics and some social issues combine to predict later adult arrests. Despite ongoing concerns about media influences, media exposure does not seem to function as a risk factor for adult criminality.”