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Most American parents believe video games lead to violence

Hitman: Absolution Screenshot - Hitman: Absolution

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that happened on December 14 is stirring a media panic in America, and video games are taking the blame.

Despite the fact that studies have shown no direct relationship between video games and real-world violence, parents are scared. A new study indicates that 75 percent believe these products contribute to violent acts in the United States, according to VG247 and Common Sense Media.

The survey, conducted January 4-5, included 1,050 parents nationwide who have a child under 18 years of age living at home.

Roughly 89 percent think violence in games is a "problem," and 75 percent admit that shielding children from violence is "difficult."

These parents also viewed a video advertisement for Hitman: Absolution, and 84 percent found it inappropriate for children. That's more than the reaction over a video ad for the movie Gangster Squad.

High percentages of these parents believe that factors like lack of supervision (93 percent), bullying (92 percent), and everyday crime (86 percent) increases violence in America. But what's most interesting is that 75 percent believe that both easy access to guns and violence in video games contribute as well. That's admittance that both are a significant problem.

It's also important to note that what parents believe and what factual evidence shows is not the same — how many times has the news overblown issues in America? It's easy to panic over video games when people of authority are telling you they're inherently bad while ignoring the research that praises their benefits.

But one thing is certain: If this many parents in the U.S. believe that video games are a problem, then that's a problem in itself. If we're to prevent the government from crippling the games industry in response to the recent panic, then we need to change how we educate people about these products. If all they see is violent ads for mature-rated games like Hitman: Absolution — games not intended for young audiences — it's no wonder parents think all games are bad influences.

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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