When 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot more than two dozen students and staff members of Sandy Hook Elementary School as well as his own mother in 2012, an old debate about the influence that violent video games has on young people was reignited. The free online game, Kindergarten Killers, a game Lanza played, was blamed: playing violent games makes you violent. But others argue that it is people with violent tendencies that are drawn to violent games. The question remains: are violent video games the cause of violent behaviour or are they merely the manifestation of violent tendencies?
This is essentially the same argument people have about media effects. Historically, it has been regarded as intuitive that media has a tremendous effect on audiences. Research has shown that establishing causation is not as easy as it seems.