Biden Says Violent Video Games ‘Not Healthy’ After Mass Shootings

By Zachary Stieber

Former Vice President Joe Biden said that violent video games that teach children “that you can shoot somebody” are “not healthy.”

His remarks came after mass shootings in Ohio and Texas.

Biden appeared on CNN on Aug. 5 to talk about the shootings and was asked by host Anderson Cooper about video games.

“When I mentioned that the president talked about video games today as being part of the problem, I saw you kind of rolled your eyes,” Cooper said, “it’s something people have talked about for a long time.”

“I’ve talked about it, too,” Biden responded. “But it is not healthy to have these games teaching kids that, you know, this dispassionate notion that you can shoot somebody and just, you know, sort of blow their brains out.”

When Cooper said that video games are popular in Japan, which sees few shootings, Biden said that violent video games are one of the factors contributing to mass shootings but said they’re not the reason “in and of itself.”

“They are. That’s my point,” Biden said. “But it’s not in and of itself the reason why we have this carnage on our streets.”

Biden’s remarks came after President Donald Trump said the “glorification of violence” in America contributes to the number of mass shootings it sees.

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately,” he said at the White House on Monday.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence enter the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House to make remarks in Washington on Aug. 5, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“Cultural change is hard, but each of us can choose to build a culture that celebrates the inherent worth and dignity of every human life. That’s what we have to do,” he added.

Violent video games were linked by researchers last year to increased physical aggression in children and teenagers, such as fighting in school.

“I hope our findings prompt skeptics to reevaluate their position, especially since some of our other research indicates that violent video game play may increase deviance with implications for multiple risk behaviors,” co-author James Sargent, director of the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth University, said in a statement.

Researchers also found that playing violent video games for one week resulted in sustained changes in the brain associated with cognitive function and emotional control, while one professor said playing violent video games might trigger violent acts in people with a predisposition to violence.

Donna Johnson, Jamila McNichols, Finesse McNichols
Family members of slain mass shooting victim Thomas “TJ” McNichols, (L-R) Donna Johnson, aunt, and sisters Jamila and Finesse McNichols, mourn beside a memorial near the scene of the crime, in Dayton, Ohio, Aug. 5, 2019. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

Richard Lamb, associate professor of learning and instruction and director of the Neurocognition Science Laboratory at the University of Buffalo, said that he found certain people had “social/emotional/cognitive and biological vulnerabilities” and that social factors, biological factors, and emotional factors combined could indicate a coming act of violence.

“When these three factors interact, video games can act as a trigger for those kinds of violent acts. But it’s not as if a video game itself causes it. That’s why you can have situations where you may have a person who plays violent games but doesn’t engage in violent acts,” he said in a statement.

“Or you may have someone who doesn’t engage in violent acts, but plays a video game and all of a sudden something happens.”