The Short Answer
For four main reasons. First, we wanted to thoroughly review all of the nooks and crannies of media violence research in a way that’s simple and accessible for all audiences. In contrast, many books on the subject tend to be targeted toward academics (read: boring and complex), can be overly simplistic (e.g., only focus on video games, only scratch the surface of the research), or inaccurately represent the state of scientific research on the subject.
Second, we want to counteract the misinformation about media violence that always seems be circulating. As science reporting in both reputable news outlets and online have become increasingly inaccurate (imagine that, people on the internet are often wrong!), there is greater need for scientists to speak up and set the record straight.
Third, we’d like our research to reach beyond the “Ivory Tower” of academia. Researchers frequently discuss their findings with other researchers, but rarely make their findings accessible to the average person. We believe that we have a moral obligation to make this research publicly available, since much of it is publicly-funded (we’re surprised taxpayers don’t demand this of scientists more often!)
Lastly, we’re frequently contacted by people – students, parents, reporters, and gamers – who want answers to the very questions we hope to address in this blog. It’d be nice (and time-saving!) to provide them with a link to the answer, including the option to dive deeper into the research upon which that answer is based.
The Long Answer
We’ve got a confession to make: We’re not the first researchers to write about media violence (gasp!) Heck, we’re even guilty of writing books on the subject ourselves!
So why go to the effort of writing a blog at all if others have already written about this stuff?
We did it because we believe that there’s a gap needing to be filled when it comes to mainstream books on media violence. To be sure, books such as Steven Kirsh’s Children, Adolescents, and Media Violence: A Critical Look at the Research1 offer an incredibly thorough review of the research on media violence and my own book Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research and Public Policy2 do a terrific job of walking the reader through the nitty-gritty details of video game violence research from start to finish.
But these books tend to be fairly detail-heavy and theory-oriented – certainly not the sort of thing you read before bed or on a bus in ten-minute bursts. This is mostly because their target audience is people who already know a thing or two about media violence research (e.g., college students, media scholars, and public policy wonks.) Most people simply don’t have the experience to make heads or tails of books filled with academic gobbledygook.
Which isn’t to say that there aren’t excellent books intended to be read by concerned parents and lay audiences. But even these books require considerable time and effort to find the answers people are