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Study: Aggressive Behavior From Kids Who Play More Games

by Matthew Kato on Mar 25, 2014 at 06:05 AM

A study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics led by Dr. Douglas Gentile (Department of Psychology, Iowa State University – Ames) found that students who play more video games than their peers self-reported increased aggressive thoughts and behavior.

The study was done via annual surveys over a period of three years with 3,034 children from six primary and six secondary schools in Singapore. The group was 73% male, and ages ranged from 8-17 years old.

Students who self-reported that they played more video games scored higher for aggressive and even violent behavior than those who said they played fewer video games per week. For example, the students who played more video games said they were more likely to fantasize about hitting someone they didn't like or thought that it was okay to hit someone if that person said something negative about them. Apart from aggressive thoughts, these students also said they would respond with actual aggressive action.

However, the study found that this aggression slightly subsided with age as the students naturally found more mature ways to deal with situations. This conclusion supports this previous study saying that the effects of violent video games is short term.

"Given that more than 90% of youths play video games," reads the study's abstract, "understanding the psychological mechanisms by which they can influence behaviors is important for parents and pediatricians and for designing interventions to enhance or mitigate the effects."

Dr. Gentile's previous work with video games and addiction in 2011 was decried by video game industry trade group the Entertainment Software Association.

[Source: JAMA via Time]


Our Take:
I've spoken with Dr. Gentile about his previous work in 2011, and found his approach to the subject rational and reasoned. Getting away from political grandstanding and the like that such studies are often used for, striving to understand the effects of stimuli on our children – and how parents can work to mitigate any effects – is a worthwhile endeavor.