Do Video Games Make Kids Aggressive?

A common stigma of parents with young children is that violent video games are a bad influence. Many people think that exposure to guns, fighting, and drugs will corrupt youth. However, video games – especially violent ones have become popular with many people in the US., so should parents allow their kids to play these games? Or should they ban them until the child has fully matured? Different adults may have conflicting opinions upon whether these games influence their children’s’ behavior and attitudes.

kids-playing-a-video-gameIn one observational study done in Japan and the US physical aggression was measured in accordance to high exposure to video games containing violence. The hypothesis was that holding gender and aggressive background constant, video games would increase violence over time. 181 Japanese students from 12 to 15 and 1050 from 13 to 18 were observed, along with a sample of US students between 9 and 12. Their behavior was observed once after 3 months, and once after 6 months. (Anderson) This study concluded that students who frequently played violent video games became somewhat more aggressive.

However this experiment fails to factor in the children’ home lives. Perhaps their families or communities were violent, or they were exposed in some other way. These other variables lead to the possibility that violence after video games could be due to chance. Personalities and upbringing can also differ from child to child.

Mark Griffiths analyzed a series of observational studies looking at children’s behavior relative to violent video game exposure. One study watched play time of 9 and 10 year olds after being exposed to aggressive games. It was reported that boy’s behavior remained pretty constant, but the girls were more aggressive. Another study found that behaviors mimic specific scenes and circumstances as seen in the games. One observation included a manipulative variable of the type of game played; one with aggression, one without, and it concluded that the children that played the aggressive games displayed a more aggressive demeanor during play time. (Griffiths)

Several experimental studies have also been conducted testing this relationship between video games and aggression. One study done on university students found no changes in aggression after playing violent games. Another watched eight graders after playing these games and aggression was not altered. (Griffiths)

It is definitely plausible that video games may cause an increase of temporary aggressive behavior, but there is not enough hard evidence to convince parents to put a complete ban on violent video games. Aggression is also a soft endpoint variable in these experiments, for there is no true way to actually get inside of children’s heads. In conclusion to multiple studies, it appears as if effects on these games tend to affect younger groups more so than older ones. This may be due to the lack of mental development, for young children are still learning about the world around them and tend to pick things up from what they see around them. As for older children and young adults, the effects do not appear to be as prominent. This may be due to the fact that they have already been exposed to more, or matured mentally.

In conclusion, it is probably a good idea to stray young curious children away from violent video games, but it is not worth a fight to stop school aged children from doing so.


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