Statistics On Video Games: Are Video Games Causing Violence In Schools?

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated October 4, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide or abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Free support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

According to a government-sponsored report called Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2021, school violence is a significant problem in the United States. 18.7 incidents of violence occurred per every 10,000 students in 2021. In addition, in 2019, 757 hate crimes occurred on school campuses. 

According to Campus Safety Magazine, 93.5% of school shootings have been committed by males, and nearly all of these individuals had a real or perceived loss before the incident. Three-fourths of the shooters had suicidal histories. These statistics cause many parents and students to feel concerned and confused about the reasons for violence. Some people have pointed to video games as one of the reasons that violence has increased in schools. However, there are a few areas to keep in mind when considering the causes behind these statistics. 

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Is There A Scientific Link Between Video Games And Violence?

Many people remember the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Often, blame was placed on heavy metal music and violent video games like Grand Theft Auto. However, on January 16th, 2018, the University of York found no correlation between video games and violence. 

The experiment tested 3,000 children and exposed them to many types of video games, including games that used graphic realism to render violence. The conclusion was that video games did not prime children to be more violent or aggressive. The participants not in these experimental groups and not exposed to violent games had the same outcomes as those who were.

The Centers for Disease Control has also addressed school violence. While they maintain that some students mimic what they see in video games, on TV, and in movies, many other risk factors can increase someone's likelihood of becoming violent or being exposed to violent situations.

Risk Factors For School Violence

One can consider, and analyze, many variables in assessing school violence statistics. Parents may evaluate their communities, family life, socialization patterns, and history with violence, to assess risk factors. Research has determined that certain factors can put students at higher risk levels for violence. These factors fall into the categories detailed below.

Family Risk Factors

Children may be at greater risk for school violence if they experience the following family risk factors:

  • Parents or caregivers with an authoritarian parenting style
  • Inconsistency in discipline
  • Low parental involvement
  • Exhibiting low emotional attachment to parents
  • Parents with a lack of education
  • A family at or below the poverty line
  • Family substance use disorder history
  • History of family criminal activity

Social Risk Factors

Below are a few of the social risk factors that may impact violence in children and adolescents:

  • Hanging out with unhealthy individuals
  • Gang involvement
  • Social isolation from peers
  • Little involvement in group activities
  • Trouble committing to a school
  • Poor academic performance

Community Risk Factors

Studies show that community and social connection are essential for mental health. Community risk factors that might impact children include the following:

  • Living in an area with a high level of unemployment
  • High-poverty or low-income levels
  • High level of single-parent families
  • Low levels of community involvement from residents

Individual Risk Factors

Children may also have individual risk factors for violence, including the following:

  • A history of violence
  • Mental illnesses and behavioral disorders
  • Substance misuse
  • Difficulty in school
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • High levels of emotional distress
  • History of emotional challenges
  • A tendency to isolate
  • Exposure to violence or conflict
  • History of trauma
The above list of risks may not be exhaustive or exclusive. Not everyone who exhibits these risk factors, or is exposed to these risk factors, may commit violence or aggressive behavior. Additionally, some people who exhibit or participate in violence in school do not display signs. Each individual and situation can vary.


Leading Causes Of School Violence

The Constitutional Rights Foundation has determined that there are many causes of school violence. In recent decades, the environment for school violence has gone online in what is known as cyberbullying. This trend has made tracking and observing school violence harder for researchers. However, the internet has also made it possible for researchers to get to know students in a way that was impossible before.

There are five leading causes of school violence, including:

  1. Access to weapons
  2. Cyberbullying
  3. Environmental impacts
  4. Community environmental impacts
  5. Family and home environments

As with risk factors, not all these causes of school violence are guaranteed to be present in the life of someone who acts violently at school. Video games are not on the list of the most common causes of aggression. The five causes discussed have been proven to correlate with aggression and violence in students between the ages of 12 and 18. In contrast, specific video games or game violence showed no correlation to youth aggression. Below are further descriptions of these five factors. 

Easy Access To Weapons

The National Institute of Health conducted a study that found that 42% of 7th and 10th graders in the US believed they could quickly obtain a gun if they wanted to. Over a quarter of the students surveyed admitted to handling a gun in the past without adult supervision, and 17% said they had illegally carried a gun in the past.

Many of these guns come from teenagers' own homes. According to researchers, 35% of homes with children under 18 have at least one gun in the house. This statistic equates to around 11 million children in the United States having immediate reach to firearms. Studies have also found that teenagers can purchase weapons at gun shows where exhibitors can get around rules when selling guns.


Cyberbullying has impacted school violence statistics since 1990, when the internet became readily available in homes. Cyberbullying has affected many teens, with several youth suicides featured in the media over the last few years. These students were often impacted by bullying on the internet, which carried over into their classrooms. When children are cyberbullied, they may feel less safe at school.

Environmental Impacts

A student's environment is one of the most observable factors in school violence. Environments, including schools, communities, groups of friends, and family, can most impact a child's behavior and attitude. Students may engage in anti-social behaviors or follow the nature of their friends because of peer pressure.  

When looking at the school specifically, studies show that half of all children under age 12 to 18, in all community settings, believed their schools were experiencing an increase in violent behavior among students. One-fourth of students believed their school had gang activity, and large schools yielded many more disciplinary concerns than smaller ones. 

The most affected grades in the studies were 7th and 8th grade. Middle school students are more likely to experience violence at school than high schoolers. 7% of 8th graders report staying home from school to avoid a bully at least one day per month, and nearly a quarter of those aged 12 say that they know of one or more people in a gang in the US. 

Community Impact

Communities that do not care about their youth may produce adolescents who are more prone to violent behaviors. Communities that offer after-school programs and social services for disadvantaged youth can positively impact youth crime and violence. In addition, children who engage in violent behaviors commonly do so when they are not under adult supervision or engaged in a structured activity.

Family Impact

Family impact may be one of the most significant factors next to environmental elements. Children whose needs are not met at home often have the highest risk of becoming violent. Children with single parents or teenage mothers can also carry higher levels of risk, not only for violence but also for physical abuse and substance misuse.

Children often develop negative and aggressive behaviors when parents do not reinforce, teach, and nurture positive behaviors. When family environments include abuse, domestic violence, or the presence of guns in the home, children may pick up these behaviors and mimic them.

Research shows that video games do not cause youth violence or school violence. While there are many contributing factors to school violence, little to no scientific evidence links video game violence to increased aggression in youth.

How Can Schools Reduce Violence? 

School violence and bullying may be prevented by schools implementing bullying prevention strategies. Some of these strategies include multi-tiered support systems for students that engage the youth and community with intervention strategies. Schools may also examine their rules and procedures for managing risky behavior in students and use social-emotional learning techniques in class.

It can be valuable for students to be supervised constantly on school property and provided a well-structured learning environment. Families and caregivers are often encouraged to participate in school-sponsored activities and programs that focus on strengthening the school's communication between students and staff. 

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Counseling Options 

If you're experiencing anger, depression, or violent feelings and don't know their source, confiding in a professional could be helpful. In addition, if your child may be experiencing risk factors for violence, allowing them to connect with a therapist before violence occurs could be beneficial. Online therapy provides a unique advantage for many parents and families due to its accessibility and cost-effectiveness. 

Platforms like BetterHelp for adults, or TeenCounseling for teens aged 13 to 19, can connect you with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your home. If you already spend a significant amount of time online, receiving care via the internet may make it easier to prioritize your mental well-being. Instead of driving to and from appointments, you can connect with your therapist from any location and smart device. 

Learning how to manage your anger can be difficult, but online therapy may prove to be a viable option for controlling it. A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that therapy delivered via the internet can help people overcome their anger and aggression with similar results to face-to-face treatments. 


Video game violence may be desensitizing children to violence and aggression, but research has shown that it isn't necessarily causing violence in schools or among the younger population. Still, being mindful of the media you and your children consume may be valuable. Additionally, staying aware of your mental health may help you spot concerns before they become destructive behaviors. 

If you or a loved one feels aggressive, violent, angry, or confrontational and suspect it is impacting your life negatively, speaking with a professional may help you navigate these feelings appropriately. A licensed therapist can provide a safe space where you can talk transparently about what you're experiencing.

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