Latest Study On Violent Video Games Shows More Aggressive Behavior

from the but-how-much? dept

We've seen plenty of studies on the impacts of violent video games, whose results were later blown out of proportion in the media. When you looked at the actual details of the studies that were often purported to show a link between violent video games and real world violence, the so-called link almost always disappeared. Instead, what you found was that playing violent video games did make kids more emotional, which is what you would expect. While playing an exciting game, who wouldn't get caught up in the action? That doesn't mean they'd go out and hurt people, though. Some studies showed immediate aggressive behavior immediately after playing, but, again, that's rather reasonable as they probably have increased adrenalin flowing. But that's hardly a sign that they're going to go hurt people, and the effect doesn't last very long. Other studies have shown that kids who play such games get desensitized to images of violence -- which again makes sense, but still doesn't mean that they think violence is acceptable. It just means they're not shocked when they see it.

The latest study may be the most interesting (and, perhaps, controversial), however. It actually tries to account for much of this and tries to measure aggressive behavior of violent video game players months later. The study found that kids who spent more time playing more violent games, did in fact get more aggressive over time, even accounting for how aggressive they were at the beginning of the study. There are some questionable aspects to the study, such as using self-reporting to determine "violent acts," but on the whole this study does appear to be at least marginally more convincing than earlier studies, and, at the very least suggests further areas that should be studied.

Of course, nowhere does it explain why, if the study's findings are true, youth violence has decreased significantly over the same period of time that violent video games have become much more popular. If violent video games really made people consistently more violent, you'd expect to see that increase. And, if that number is not increasing, then you have to wonder if any reported increase in youth violence is even at a level that matters. If there's a marginal increase in aggressive behavior that doesn't lead to any increase in illegal behavior, is that really an issue? Also, when compared with another recent study that shows it's the small percentage of kids who don't play video games who are more likely to actually get in trouble, it makes you wonder if there are some completely independent factors at work here, rather than any direct correlation between violent video games and real world violence.

Filed Under: research, violent video games


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  1. identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, 3 Nov 2008 @ 12:59pm

    Multiple Causes

    As I was reading this, my mind went in the same direction as yours. I think there are at least two independent factors at work.

    But, another possibility. Is it possible that children who are naturally more violent play violent video games, and that natural tendency just takes time to manifest itself? Also, is it possible that many of the small percentage of kids who do not play video games who are more likely to get into trouble are unable to afford video games?

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