New Study 'Strongly Suggests' Reducing Youth Exposure to Violent Videogames

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A new study in this month’s Pediatrics journal “confirms” a link between violent videogames and aggressive behavior.

Various researchers from Iowa State University in Ames, the National Institute on Media and the Family in Minneapolis, and Ochanomizu University, Keio University, the University of Tsukuba, and Takasaki City University of Economics in Japan, observed hundreds of students from nine to fifteen years of age in both the United States and Japan at two points in time separated by three to six months. They tested “whether high exposure to violent videogames increases physical aggression over time in both high- (United States) and low- (Japan) violence cultures.” The summarized results after the jump:

“Habitual violent videogame play early in the school year predicted later aggression, even after controlling for gender and previous aggressiveness in each sample. Those who played a lot of violent videogames became relatively more physically aggressive. Multisample structure equation modeling revealed that this longitudinal effect was of a similar magnitude in the United States and Japan for similar-aged youth and was smaller (but still significant) in the sample that included older youth.”

In the report, the researchers feel this information “adds two critical pieces of evidence on the issue of the potential aggression-enhancing effects of violent videogames.” First, they say it “confirms that habitually playing violent videogames leads to increases in physical aggression some months later in children and adolescents, relative to those who do not play violent videogames.” Second, they feel that “the power of violent videogames to affect children’s developmental trajectories in a harmful way” is illustrated by both cultures yielding “significant longitudinal effects of approximately the same magnitude.”

In conclusion, they say, “The research strongly suggests reducing the exposure of youth to this risk factor.” While this new information is sure to become a favorite hymn of any anti-videogame evangelist, let’s remember an excerpt from Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do, whose authors also recently administered a two-year $1.5-million U.S. Department of Justice-funded multifaceted study of violent videogames and children.

“Focusing on such easy but minor targets as violent videogames causes parents, social activisits, and public-policy makers to ignore the much more powerful and significant causes of youth violence that have already been well established, including a range of social, behavioral, economic, biological, and mental-health factors.”

Let’s be honest these “tests” and “studies” are never going to end, well, not while we still get conflicting results from 2 separate tests. At the end of the day games have age ratings, just like movies, it’s up the parents to maker sure they are in control of what their child sees, hears and does, to the best of their ability. As a parent you wouldn’t take your kid to see SAW so why would you let him play Gears of War?

Source: Reuters

Last Updated: November 4, 2008

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