Over the last 15 years, Americans have been witness to what feels like an inconceivable amount of homicidal violence. Right on our home turf.

Gun crimes often get the most media coverage, and so the debate over gun control and bans rages on.

And quickly on its heels comes an argument over violent video games and the part they play, or don’t, in the killings we’re becoming sickeningly accustomed to.

While experts have continually reported over those same 15 years that violent video games, even those where the gamer him or herself is acting out such grisly murders, do not cause real life criminal violence, they also state that “no longitudinal studies” have been done regarding the subject. Meaning, no research has been done with the same variables over a substantial amount of time.

And how could it be?

There are too many factors involved to make absolute, factual statements about CAUSE in regards to video games.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t take a slightly different view that could lead to hope, healing, and prevention.

Unfortunately, our society is becoming desensitized to completely unnatural disaster of interpersonal violence we’re experiencing. Repeated exposure to something, albeit abhorrent, inherently lends itself to a more flippant attitude about that thing.

Can’t the same be said for those violent games? The more you act out sickening treatment of fellow human beings—even if on-screen—the less egregiously it is viewed…isn’t it?

I’m not here to say that every gamer who enjoys Call of Duty and similarly violent games will at some point find themselves uncontrollably on the war path against an annoying neighbor or innocent schoolchildren. Not at all.

But is it helping?

And at this point, I think that’s something we need to examine. It sometimes feels impossible to change laws, or even agree to the laws that need to be changed. Those are big obstacles that involve millions of disparate views.

But individually, there are smaller, simpler steps that can be taken NOW to increase our own emotional and mental health, our social understanding, and our reverence for human life.

And examining how we spend our time and energy in “entertainment” is certainly one of them.

It’s time to ask ourselves, is it helping? And then act accordingly as individuals, every day.