More Studies Show That Violent Video Games Aren't A Problem For Kids

from the and-again-and-again-and-again dept

While a few anti-video gaming folks keep insisting that the evidence shows that violent video games are bad for kids, anyone who looks closely at the research has found that there does not appear to be any real connection between violence in kids and violent video games. For a while, though, the American Psychological Association had warned about violent video games, despite the lack of real evidence. It looks like, perhaps, the APA is realizing this was a mistake. In a new "special issue" of Review of General Psychology, published by the APA, a variety of studies are reviewed, and the findings suggest that the moral panic over violent video games is almost totally misplaced.

The only issue is that in a small group of kids, who already appear to have other psychological issues, the video games may contribute to and exacerbate those issues. In other words, it's not the video games that are the issue, but a separate problem. But for most children, there are no problems with them playing violent video games, despite what you may have heard on the nightly news:
"Violent video games are like peanut butter," said Christopher J. Ferguson, of Texas A&M International University. "They are harmless for the vast majority of kids but are harmful to a small minority with pre-existing personality or mental health problems."

He added that studies have revealed that violent games have not created a generation of problem youngsters.

"Recent research has shown that as video games have become more popular, children in the United States and Europe are having fewer behavior problems, are less violent and score better on standardized tests," Ferguson, a guest editor for the journal, explained.
Other studies also found that many video games have positive aspects, and can be quite useful to kids.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 12:18pm

    Additional reading

    Henry Jenkins of the MIT Comparative Media Studies program has a bunch of really solid research and papers as well (some entirely original, some which he aggragated others and drew conclusions).

    In fact, the book I'm working on right now deals with a Psychologist being called in as part of a team to deal with the first human being "cloned" faithfully into a digital format (see either "Digital Physics" or "Digital Philosophy" in wikipedia for some general ideas on the concept). That character was called in because he previously worked as a consultant on violent videogames and their effects on children. I based him off of what I read from Mr. Jenkins....

     

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  2.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

    Violent Cartoons

    In the 70's they used to say violence in cartoons caused children to be violent. Bugs Bunny and Road Runner cartoons had the violent scenes taken out when shown on TV which made them unwatchable.

     

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  3.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 1:41pm

    Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    It's the natural course of maturity. To over-simplify: violence in many games where the player is defending the good is okay, BUT gratuitous violence such as in Grand Theft Auto should shock adults.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    I've been playing violent video games since I was 5. My brother started much earlier. Wolfenstein 3d, Doom and Mortal Kombat were part of my childhood and I didn't turn out to be a serial killer and neither did my brother.

    I think it all depends on the education you get (for those mentally well, the mentally unbalanced might be a different story). If you get taught at an early age that that is "just a game" and you are taught how to properly behave in society and learn that killing or hurting people is bad, violent video games won't hurt. They will actually be useful to blow off some steam.

     

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  5.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    Have you not noticed that in the GTA games you are generally an anti-hero, meaning a gruff good guy that has to deal with a bad world?

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    I could understand an anti-hero in literature but in video games? That would mean that video games might be an art form and we shouldn't expose children to certain kinds of art forms, why, they might think!

    The best example of the video game as art is Tetris.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    GTA, meh. You mow people down by the dozens. After a while they just become a statistic. It's not really violent...It's actually funny sometimes. In strategy games I slay people by the thousands and that doesn't bother me. They're just a statistic.

    Games that really shock me are those where you are face to face with your enemies and have to get your hands dirty like most horror games. I don't remember many of the old ones I've played, but I recently played the Chzo mythos series (great games by the way) and I couldn't sleep well for a while. I also played Call of Chtuhulu: Dark Corner of the Earth (I can never spell HIS name right), also an awesome game, but you need nerves of steel sometimes, or you flip.

    Those games ARE shocking, but in the end, they are just games. You can turn off your PC and know that that was all a fantasy, kinda like a dream (or a nightmare)...There are worse things happening in the world RIGHT now, and people aren't bothered about them...

     

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  8.  
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    Murdock (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 2:17pm

    CDC Report shows declines in violence and weapons use

    ...among teens since 1991.

    But wait, wait that is exactly when video games started ramping up, how could this be?

     

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  9.  
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    Murdock, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 2:17pm

    Re: CDC Report shows declines in violence and weapons use

     

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  10.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    "The best example of the video game as art is Tetris."

    I'm guessing you're joking, but there truly is games that are artwork and there is also amazing artwork IN games (possibly making them works of art themselves?). Two examples:

    1. Deus Ex - Amazing artwork in design, flow, storytelling, writing, etc.

    2. The Longest Journey - If you don't call the visuals and settings of that game artwork, then you don't know artwork.

     

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  11.  
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    David L (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 2:26pm

    RE: More Studies Show That Violent Video Games Aren't A Problem For Kids

    I am going to go with: Duh.

    I don't think this is any different than the totally bogus effects theory baloney that claimed that violent cartoons (i.e. "Tom and Jerry", as well as the Warner Brother cartoons starring Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Wyle E. Coyote and the Roadrunner,) desensitized children to violence and made them prone to be violent.

    We humans are predictably dumb animals, but we aren't that dumb.

    It comes down to responsible parenting and appropriate socialization, folks. Always has, always will.

     

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  12.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 2:30pm

    Makes sense to me.

    I have been playing violent and non-violent video games for over 20 years. No problems yet.

     

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  13.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Makes sense to me.

    Of course I could be a closet serial killer.

     

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  14.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    I've so many good memories of whole weekends blown away playing Deus Ex. Such an awesome game...

     

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  15.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Makes sense to me.

    "Of course I could be a closet serial killer."

    Or a serial closet killer. Have you ever worked demo for a construction team?

     

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  16.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    Hell, I STILL play it every once in a while. FYI, a great humorous Deus Ex site: http://www.it-he.org/ (click the DE icon on the left).

    Actually, the five games I keep in a regular rotation are:

    1. Deus Ex
    2. Fallout 2
    3. Sam 'N Max
    4. Tie Fighter
    5. Monkey Island
    Honorable Mention: Grim Fandango

    I find something new in each of them every time....

     

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  17.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    "gratuitous violence such as in Grand Theft Auto should shock adults"

    ...and it does, as do many violent movies, books, etc. The game is also M rated, which means that any parent should *not* be buying it for their kids. Sometime, adult entertainment means "this is not suitable for children, don't blame us if you decide to buy it anyway despite the warnings".

     

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  18.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    I would add the following:

    Bioshock
    Braid
    Rez
    Half Life 1 & 2
    Any Lucasarts adventure game
    Many of the main Final Fantasy games
    Super Mario World

     

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  19.  
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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    Dude, are you reading my diary? I see you forgot System Shock 2 though...

    P.S. Did you ever get the full tattoo in Tie Fighter?

    P.P.S. I feel bad that I never finished The Longest Journey :(

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    Deus Ex was awesome. Too bad they screwed up Deus Ex 2 and are probably gonna screw up even more in the third one :(

     

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  21.  
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    Steven (profile), Jun 9th, 2010 @ 4:53pm

    Like Peanut Butter.

    I love that line. It's a great analogy.

    I prefer my violent video games extra crunchy.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2010 @ 8:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

     

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  23.  
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    dizafrabadoo (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 1:23am

    Duh.

    Seriously, I found it insulting that snotty adults would assume kids aren't intelligent enough to know that murder, shooting, etc. via a video game is completely different than real life. Sure, you'll have a few nut jobs that pop out nutty at birth, but those are already lost souls and the ratio of crime committed by those that played video games religiously as children (and blames it on video games) is really minuscule.

    My brothers and I grew up on games, I ended up having no police record, my two siblings the same.. in fact, we are all in decent/respectable jobs. Heck, my son, he started gaming at 3 and I let him play violent games. He's a smart kid with a good heart and knows the difference between right and wrong.

    Glad to finally see some polarized info on why games aren't that malicious to a child's well being.

     

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  24.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 4:02am

    Re: Duh.

    It's a generational thing - every generation of adults seem to need a scapegoat to blame the ills of society upon, and they seize on things they didn't grow up with. Previous scapegoats include rock 'n roll, comic books, heavy metal, horror movies, videotapes, the internet, etc.

    Video games are just the newest scapegoat, and like all the others will be forgotten when the next convenient scapegoat raises its head. It's annoying, but the reason is clear - it's easier for the media and the simple-minded to blame these things than to combat the real ills of society (crime, poverty, poor education, broken families, etc.)

     

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  25.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 5:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    "P.S. Did you ever get the full tattoo in Tie Fighter?"

    I'm not sure. Is there some kind of reward or event that happens?

    "P.P.S. I feel bad that I never finished The Longest Journey :("

    Do it. Do it now. Completely worth it....

     

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  26.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 5:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    Yeah, I can't believe I didn't include FF7 and FF8 in there. I replay those all the time!

     

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  27.  
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    chris (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 7:26am

    Re: Violent Cartoons

    In the 70's they used to say violence in cartoons caused children to be violent.

    and in the 80's it was comic books and dungeons and dragons.

    in the 90's it was rap music.

    movies and television have gotten steadily more violent and no one cares because movies have been around forever.

     

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  28.  
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    SomeGuy (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    I never got into FF8; it never grabbed me. It seemed to meander along kind of aimlessly and then pull out weird time-travel and amnesia plot points.

     

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  29.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    Yeah, lots of people say that. They explained the amnesia part, however, though the time travel aspect was kind of odd. The biggest problem I had was getting over the fact that the hero is a whiny bitch...

     

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  30.  
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    redwall_hp (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Duh.

    The internet is still a frequent scapegoat. QED: "internet addiction."

     

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  31.  
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    redwall_hp (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    Oh, violence in video game is a problem...but the much more violent Hollywood films aren't? Some of the films landing a PG or PG-13 rating are pretty nasty. Pirates of the Caribbean 3 seemed like it should have merited an R rating, given some of the things in it. (Seriously, someone has his face torn off...)

     

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  32.  
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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    The "reward" is moving up in the Emperor's secret council, the tattoo is an indicator of how far up you are. There was a pretty cool cut-scene of the Emperor burning the mark into your arm each time he upgraded you for completing the Bonus missions, a couple of which are COMPLETELY diabolical (I had to replay one of them 40+ times before beating it!)

     

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  33.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 10th, 2010 @ 11:47am

    Just who is having the problem here

    Has anyone, besides me, wondered if it's adults that should be banned from playing violent and sexually oriented video games (and other entertainments) rather than children?

    I'm starting to get the impression that children have a far greater capacity to separate fantasy from reality that adults do?

    Just wonderin'

     

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  34.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, Jun 10th, 2010 @ 12:06pm

    Violent video games

    " "Recent research has shown that as video games have become more popular, children in the United States and Europe are having fewer behavior problems, are less violent and score better on standardized tests," Ferguson, a guest editor for the journal, explained.

    Other studies also found that many video games have positive aspects, and can be quite useful to kids."

    Okay, recent research shows that as people make statements of facts that may or may not be related (they certainly don't appear to know); people who want to believe their unsupported conclusions accept them as fact.

    Should I take it then, that "Wishing will make it so"?

     

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  35.  
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    Holly, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    It all comes back to the parents

    If parents would pay a little more attention to their kids these days I think there would be a little less violence. I find it funny how society needs something easy to blame for the way our youths are acting instead of addressing the real problems. I grew up a video game kid and so did my husband and we have turned out just fine. We both have very amazing careers, college degrees, and a wonderful son. We still play video games to this day and we fully intend on involving our son in them too! I did an article on this very subject not too long ago... http://itsgrindingmygears.blogspot.com/2010/05/everything-bad-is-good-for-you-video.html

     

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  36.  
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    Rekrul, Jun 13th, 2010 @ 10:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a problem for kids; but adults *should* object.

    I'm guessing you're joking, but there truly is games that are artwork and there is also amazing artwork IN games (possibly making them works of art themselves?). Two examples:

    Thief: Gold
    Thief 2: The Metal Age

    There's also a fan-made campaign for Thief 2 called Shadows of the Metal Age.

     

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  37.  
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    Matt, Jul 13th, 2010 @ 7:36am

    Re: It all comes back to the parents

    I can't echo this sentiment strongly enough!!!!!

    My son is 12 and has been playing games (mostly first person shooters, now) since he was 5. The entire time I have been evaluating each and every title for its appropriateness for him. At the same time, I am teaching him how to evaluate the good/bad factors in each game himself. The older he gets, the more he gets to choose what games he plays. And guess what? He passes on most of the games I would not play either.

    Prepare your kids to become adults. Don't abandon your responsibility to teach on the basis of a headline.

     

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  38.  
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    john, Dec 30th, 2010 @ 3:21am

    i've been a gamer my whole life

    ever since i was in kindergarten i have been a gamer, violent games do not make violent children, small children with access to an open internet/chatrooms/facebook/xboxlive help create violent children, i'm a professional gamer, im 24 years old, and i see and hear pre-teens and teenagers alike going back and forth at each other in a very violent and degrading manner. it disgusts me to see it honestly. its not the videogames, its not the movies, its the unrestricted access to whatever your kid can expose themselves to or whatever the parents are allowing their kids to see, that is turning children into little shitheads.

    so i say as long as you keep an eye on your kids and just be a good parent you're fine, but its honestly gonna take alot more work in todays society than it ever has before.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 7:15am

    ghggggggggg

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    hhgfss, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 7:15am

    ghggggggggg

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    hhgfss, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 7:15am

    ghggggggggg

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    hhgfss, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 7:15am

    ghggggggggg

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    black ops, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 7:19am

    Re: i am 11

    black ops is beastly

     

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  44.  
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    black ops, Mar 1st, 2011 @ 7:19am

    Re: i am 11

    black ops is beastly

     

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  45.  
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    SBJF, Oct 3rd, 2011 @ 1:37pm

    Re: True.

    I am thinking the same way myslef... i started playing GTA when I was 7-8, and now I'm very mature, and if I have kids I would let them play video games with me, if they wanted too, of course.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
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    Gianna Pack, Apr 26th, 2012 @ 2:09am

    Re: Research Paper

    I am doing a research paper and would like to use this comment as a cited comment for my reference. Could you ellaborate a bit more and send it to me as an email for my reference list.

    My research paper is on: Do violent video games and television shows cause violent, aggressive behavior in children?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
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    Joe dirt (profile), Dec 4th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    I think that not all video games are that bad. i mean that one guy that planned a terrorism attack of MW3 was bad but other than that video games are ok

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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