► DEFINITION :
A moral panic is a public panic over an issue deemed to be a threat to, or shocking to, the sensibilities of “proper” society. This is often fanned by sensationalist selective reporting in the media and exaggerated accounts offered by “moral entrepreneur,” a category that includes politicians on the make and activists in search of a cause. Moral panics can result in what is a real phenomenon being blown way out of proportion, or in what is not a real phenomenon in the first place being widely believed to be real. Moral panics often feature a caricatured or stereotypical “folk devil” on which the anxieties of the community are focused.
► New medias brings with their popularization moral panics.”When the Medium stops being New, it stops being Evil.” (tvtropes.org), so does new teen trend, or phenomenon, and video games that used to be something nobody was paying attention of, became THE explanation of young adults violences, after the sadly famous Columbine incident. So strictly speaking, video games existed for 20 years, but the spread of home computers that made them more available than the arcad game, their graphic improvment that led to more realistic environement, and especially when the user was playing for the first time with Wolfenstein 3D the first person perspective, this began to attract medias and people attentions and fear. This “great evil” that turns teens into antisocial-serial-killer-zombies countless used, every time a dreadful slaughter happens. I won’t explain here why I think this systematic accusation is a nonsense, my poor opinion does’nt matter, and qualified people talks about it in these 2 good articles anyway: thedailycaller.com and psychologytoday.com . Check also “The School Shooting / Violent Video Game Link: Causal Relationship or Moral Panic?” by Christopher Ferguson. His article has become a reference.
► A very good post has already been done by Adam Thierer on techliberation.com, and I will borrow some of his stuff.
Here we have C. Ferguson’s “moral panic wheel”. No one is directly responsible for the rise of a moral panic, but still, this is a whole combined and spread most of the time by a certain type of media.