Do Violent Video Games Cause Aggressive Behavior in Their Players?

It is a common argument nowadays that violent video games are causing violence and behavior problems in today’s youth. The average adolescent is exposed to enormous amounts of violence through the media. American children between eight and eighteen years of age spend an average seven hours and thirty minutes using entertainment media per day. 12game-superjumboThis amount of time is longer than the average high school, middle school, and elementary school day. Within that seven hours of media exposure, there are extreme amounts of violence viewed. By the age of eighteen, the average young person will have watched around 200,000 acts of violence on television alone. This amount of exposure to violent media, which can include television, internet, movies, music, and video games, can have drastic effects on the way adolescents think and feel. I feel like with all this exposure there has to be a connection between the violence that these kids see in the video games and their aggressive tendencies. The hypothesis that I was researching is the idea that the violent video games cause aggressive tendencies in adolescents. The null hypothesis would of course be that nothing is happening, and there is no connection between the two variables.

An article released by Harvard Medical School states that there are two sides of the debate. There are the people who believe that exposure to violent media can help contribute to real-life violence and harmful behavior, other researchers have questions the validity of much of this evidence. For starters, much of the research relies on measures assessing violence that don’t correlate with real-life violence. They also talk about how many of the studies done our observational, which aren’t the best when trying to prove a cause-effect relationship. They also note that crime stats involving serious and violent crimes among youth have continued to lower over the years, and in that time video game sales have skyrocketed. Another article mentions a meta-analysis done for many research papers concerning aggression and the media. This analysis found that while there is a solid relationship between an increase in aggressive behavior and the playing and viewing of violent video games there were also several third variables that came into play. The kids that really acted on these aggressive feelings were ones who already had antisocial behavioral tendencies, depression, trouble at home, academic problems, etc. Video games are less of a single casual variable, and more of one of many variables that feed into violent people and their actions.

I think that it is safe to say that we can reject the null hypothesis, as the meta-analysis did show that there is some correlation between violent video games and the aggressive tendencies of their audiences. However, I think that it is extremely important to keep all the other variables in mind, and remember that video games on their own are not the culprit.

4 thoughts on “Do Violent Video Games Cause Aggressive Behavior in Their Players?

  1. Benjamin R Tuohey

    This is a very interesting topic and debate. They have been trying to make similar correlations with violent sports and athletes being violent when they come off the field. I found this article that talks about they think football players are more prone to violence. They are saying that athletes are taking the similar behaviors and ways they act on the field and applying them to situations off the field.

  2. Brett Alan Merritt

    I just did a very similar blog and got the same results. I agree that there is a correlation, but I don’t think video games are the only cause for violent behavior. Do you think that the age and maturity level of the player play a role in how the game affects them?

  3. Patrick James Mcgovern

    This is such a tough thing to address in my opinion, because yes, society should not praise and promote violence alongside one of its biggest and most frequently enjoyed pastimes. However, many people in the world can naturally separate their mind’s motives from fictional playing and actual life.

    I feel like I’m limiting art and expression when I say that there should be a limit and a cap of sorts when simulated gameplay is being created at such a fast rate. Despite this, there are many fears and connections that are valid and cause alarm in today’s pool of violence and mental illness that scares so many.

    All I can say is that there is progress to be made and the fix is not in changing the gaming world, but rather the way we live as a people around such common and advanced leisure.

  4. Jon Shanfelder

    I also did a blog post about how video games affect children and I found different results. Although you do have one source that says there is a slight correlation between video games and aggression, your sources are easily discardable. Although it is tempting to use CBS and the Kaiser Family Foundation (a notoriously conservative group), I am concerned about the legitimacy and possibly biased results of these studies. If you take a look at my blog post you will find several reputable sources to confirm my meta-analysis.

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