Video games, violence, and asocial behavior

May 5, 2010 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

A meta-analyis of 130 research reports from studies involving 130,000 young people worldwide give us a conclusive answer to the following question: do violent video games induce aggressive behavior in children?

The study, led by Iowa State University Distinguished Professor of Psychology Craig Anderson, conclusive says: Yes, it does. In addition, exposure to these games also initiates asocial behavior in kids, including decreased empathy. The study was conducted worldwide by a team of international researchers and looked at the effects of contemporary video games on the behavior, feelings and thoughts of a large group of children and young people which ranged from primary school children to college undergraduates.

Professor Anderson says:

“We can now say with utmost confidence that regardless of research method — that is experimental, correlational, or longitudinal — and regardless of the cultures tested in this study [East and West], you get the same effects. And the effects are that exposure to violent video games increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior in both short-term and long-term contexts. Such exposure also increases aggressive thinking and aggressive affect, and decreases prosocial behavior.”

The behavioral and psychological effects of violent video games were observed across cultures from East to West, regardless of gender and age groups. Earlier hypotheses that the effects are more significant in the younger age groups are not supported by the study results. In other words, even your college-aged teenager is susceptible!

The behavioral changes may not be easily discernible by parents or teachers because they are not as overt as joining a gang or going on rampage or abusing a substance. But the changes occur gradually, with long-term harmful consequences.

Now that the question has been answered once and for all, Anderson believes it is time to implement public policies that can help parents and protect children.

“Just like your child’s diet and the foods you have available for them to eat in the house, you should be able to control the content of the video games they have available to play in your home,” he said. “And you should be able to explain to them why certain kinds of games are not allowed in the house — conveying your own values. You should convey the message that one should always be looking for more constructive solutions to disagreements and conflict.”

In a 2009 Kaiser Generation M2- Kids/Youth/Media Survey, children aged from 8 to 18 spend on average 1 hour 13 minutes each day playing video games. There are other reports, however, which indicate it could be more – as much as 14 hours per week!

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