Research into the effects of violent video games continues, with three new studies showing that they increase aggression in children and teenagers. The studies, one from the United States and two from Japan, examined the content of games, how often they are played and aggressive behaviour later on. Professor Craig Anderson of Iowa State University, lead author of a report in the journal Pediatrics, said that despite Japanese society being less violent than the US, the studies all produced similar results.

The US study showed an increased likelihood of getting into a fight at school or being identified by a teacher or peer as physically aggressive five to six months after the study began. It focused on 364 children aged 9 to 12 in Minnesota. Japanese researchers studied more than 1200 Japanese youths aged 12 to 18. Allowing for gender and previous aggressiveness, the results provided “conclusive evidence that playing violent video games has harmful effects on children and adolescents”, Anderson said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which is revising its recommendations on media violence, now recognises it as a significant health risk to children and adolescents. The academy recommends limiting screen time to one or two hours a day. However, the new study noted that video games are played in 90 per cent of American homes with children aged 8 to 16, and that the average US playing time has risen from four hours a week in the late 1980s to 13 hours — boys averaging 16 to 18 hours a week.

Even so, Anderson says 5 to 10 hours a week playing violent video games would not by itself turn a boy into “a school shooter”; there would have to be other risk factors, such as gang involvement, antisocial parents and peers, substance abuse, poverty and other media violence. ~ Washington Post, Nov 3

 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet