Study finds no link between video games and kids’ violence


Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Said Jesus Bernardino

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Said Jesus Bernardino

The type of video games your child plays isn’t likely to affect their behavior, a new study finds. Violent games are not the culprits for aggressive children, though the duration of game play could have some impact on the way they behave.

The Oxford University study of children in primary school kids found that behavior and academic performance was mainly affected when the time spent on video games, of any type, was increased. When children played for under an hour daily they tended to have fewer issues with aggression than the kids who did not play any video games. Those children who played for more than three hours were more aggressive and less interested in their studies.

Even so, this change in behavior was minimal.

The study, featured in an article by Telegraph.co.uk, was published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture. More than 200 ten- and eleven-year-old children were asked about what kind of video games they played and the time they spent playing them. Their teachers were asked to review their behavior and academic commitment.

According to the study, kids who played online games that linked to other players were likely to have fewer issues dealing with other children than kids who played by themselves. However, those children playing by themselves did better academically and had less aggressive behaviors. Even so, game playing actually had minor influences on the children’s attitudes. The study’s conclusion was:

Taken together, this suggests that quantity may play a larger role than the quality of games played — a counter intuitive finding for many focused on the violent contents of some gaming contexts. These findings do not support the idea that regular violent game play is linked to real world violence or conflict.

The study paper likened the link between violent video games and violent behavior in the children who play them to previous panics over advancing technology such as television and the internet corrupting kids.

The lead author, Dr Andy Przybylski, from Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute, said, “Some are of the position that there is no reason to believe that video games are any different from any other kind of media and then there are those who are very concerned.” While this study did not find a link between violence in games and violent behaviour, given that past studies did find that violent video games had an effect, overall the evidence so far is inconclusive.

Przybylski added, “But if you look at the evidence it looks like when violence is in some [other] form of media like film it actually might be much more influential for those who consume it compared to games.”

He suggested that there might be many reasons why people play video games. “It might be that there is something really fun going on the in game or it might be that there is something going on in the young person’s life.”

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