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Letter: Three mass shootings and still unanswered questions

All the media and official reports concerning the recent mass shootings have pointed to hate or terrorism as the cause. As enforcement examines computers and Facebook pages for evidence, there has been no mention of the video games that were found on the assailants’ computers.  

As a counselor with knowledge of the effects of such violent games as Fortnite, I think this is overlooking important evidence. It has been my experience in counseling children ages 3 to 13, that playing these games for some children and adolescents creates chemicals in the body that produce anger. 

Recent knowledge of brain chemistry shows the part of the brain called the amygdala is responsible for emotions. The signals from this part of the brain are so strong that they will override thinking and reasoning. When a 10-year-old is told he can no longer play Fortnite and his response to his parents is that he will kill himself or will kill his parents, or he head butts his mother, you have to shake your head and wonder what has taken place. 

No critical thinking is involved. It is more of an initial survival reaction that the amygdala produces. When a child or adolescent spends hours shooting and killing others in an imaginary video game, their level of anger or irritability is increased and sustained, causing violent reactions when told to stop. Parents often say to me, “All his or her friends are playing.” My answer to parents is that they have only two jobs: to keep their kids safe and to keep them healthy. Playing violent video games is not safe or healthy.  

My challenge to the media and enforcement agencies is to investigate the assailants’ level and extent of interaction with video games to determine if this is a contributing factor to the extreme violence and anger seen in mass shooters, and to publicize the impact of certain violent video games.

Dr. Connie Holliman, LPC