Playing violent video games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty doesn’t make kids more aggressive, a new study finds.
Researchers from Massey University, the University of Tasmania and Stetson University have assessed multiple long-term studies of video games and aggression.
They found no evidence of a substantial link between “aggressive play content” and signs of anger or rage later in childhood.
Past ‘poor quality studies’ have probably exaggerated the impact of games on aggression, while better quality studies show that the effects of gaming are ‘negligible’.
Regulation of violent games also didn’t seem to lessen real-life aggression, suggesting that parents shouldn’t worry about their kids shooting virtual enemies.
Realistic displays of violence, such as mass shootings in the US, have been blamed for video games by some politicians, rather than lax gun laws and easy access to firearms.
After a shooting in the US last year, US President Donald Trump said America should “stop the glorification of violence” through “horrifying and horrifying video games.”
Society and scientists continue to debate whether violent video games have long-term consequences for young people. But playing violent video games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty doesn’t make kids more aggressive, a new study finds.
“Studies don’t seem to support substantial long-term links between aggressive game content and youth aggression,” say the researchers in their paper, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.
“Correlations between aggressive game content and youth aggression seem to be better explained by methodological weaknesses and expected effects of researchers than by real effects in the real world.”
The study was led by Chris Ferguson, a professor of psychology at Stetson University in Florida, who previously rejected the causal link between video games and violent behavior.
He told it New York Times last year: ‘The data on bananas that cause suicide is about as convincing. Literally. The numbers roughly match. ‘
The meta-analysis took into account data from 28 long-term outcome studies involving approximately 21,000 participants to investigate the long-term consequences of violent gameplay on aggression
Whether aggressive video games contribute to aggressive behavior in young people has been a point of contention for decades, since the earliest cabinet and Atari 2600 console games in the early 1980s, Dr. Ferguson and his team.
Despite nearly four decades of research into the link between gaming and aggression, “no consensus has been reached.”
More than 100 experimental studies have been conducted on aggressive game effects.
But analysis suggests publication bias – a tendency not to publish stories that produce negative findings or support a hypothesis – led to ‘over-confidence’ in the idea that gaming causes short-term aggression in real life.
“Experimental research into the short-term effects of aggressive game content on player aggression has yielded inconsistent results,” they say.
Overall, there was evidence that violent video games like Grand Theft Auto (pictured) had no noticeable impact on subsequent aggression. In some cases, lower quality studies may have exaggerated the impact of games on aggression, while better quality studies indicate that such effects are ‘negligible’
However, there is also the possibility that gaming has long-term effects – with aggression occurring months or years later, or in adolescence and even early adulthood.
To find out more, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of data from 28 long-term outcome studies involving approximately 21,000 participants to investigate the long-term consequences of violent play on aggression.
Overall, there was evidence that violent video games had no noticeable impact on subsequent aggression – the long-term consequences of violent games on youth aggression were found to be “near zero.”
The researchers call on scientists and professional guilds such as the American Psychological Association (APA) to be ‘more candid’ about what is an ‘extremely small perceived relationship’ between violent games and youth aggression.
The APA’s psychology department said earlier in a statement, “Little evidence has emerged that establishes a causal or correlational link between playing violent video games and actually committing violent activities.”
This is probably not the last word on the subject, as academics continue to analyze different datasets with different approaches.
Investigators said that there is an as close connection between playing violent video games and being violent in real life as ‘on bananas that cause suicide’
In 2018, another team of academics reported that young gamers were more likely to be physically aggressive with their peers and abused by school officials.
Data produced a correlation between titles such as Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and Manhunt and increased physical aggression with prolonged use.
Conversely, a team reported last year that while people who played video games as a child were more likely to argue as adults, gaming could not be identified as the cause.
Other factors, such as gender and environment, may play just as important a role in people who become violent as adults, the researchers claim.
CAN VIDEO GAMES MAKE YOU LESS EMPATHETIC?
In a recent study, researchers looked at the three games participants played the most, noting whether they were violent (such as Call of Duty shooting game) or non-violent (such as FIFA).
They monitored participants’ brain waves using electroencephalography (EEG).
At the same time, they completed a ‘stop signal task’ with male and female faces that looked happy or scared.
The study found that gaming was associated with lower empathy and emotional insensitivity.
Researchers believe this is because it inhibits people’s ability to process emotional facial expressions and thereby control their responses.