Studies

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
research, violent video games



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.

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  1. identicon
    duderino, 3 Nov 2008 @ 1:33pm

    Eh?

    Aren't children naturally aggressive? which is how and why we learn at a young age the difference between hurting and playing? As children, especially boys, we are always rough, as long as the other boy puts up with it (aka isn't crying...yet). So before video games, when kids were being kids and fought with eachother for fun or for principle, what was the "link" then? Couldn't it just be natural? The medium changes, nature doesn't.

    The other thing is, what started the aggression? Were the games turned off without notice? (That would piss me off mid game, movie, show, athletic event, etc) Are they upset because they lost? Was there aggression verbally or physically? Was it while they were playing someone or waiting?

    Also, keep in mind, when you watch a scary movie, if you get tapped on your shoulder you will jump, but there's no study about how people become tense when watching scary movies.

    Maybe this study is saying something about how children areevolving to be more self-confident in fights. Maybe, when a bully is pushing around a kid who plays Halo and identifies with Master Chief, that kid will stand his ground.

    So, is the aggression the good kind or the bad kind? were they hurting people for no reason or were they just repsonding to the current situation.

    but I agree with what the Coward says: "Politicians and Media need to STFU"

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