APA Confirms Video Game Link To Aggression, But Not Violence

by Mike Futter on Aug 13, 2015 at 12:20 PM

The American Psychological Association has released a report affirming the link between video games and aggression. However, the group says that there is not enough evidence to extrapolate that to criminal violence or delinquency.

The task force involved reviewed more than 150 studies taking place between 2005 and 2013 that examined links between game engagement and aggressive thoughts and behavior. However, there are limitations in the studies, as they do not qualify for gender, take into account children under the age of 10, or extend longitudinally far enough to study impact over a child’s development.

“No single risk factor consistently leads a person to act aggressively or violently,” the report states. “Rather, it is the accumulation of risk factors that tends to lead to aggressive or violent behavior. The research reviewed here demonstrates that violent video game use is one such risk factor.”

As a result, the APA task force has recommended to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board improvements to the system that take into account more types of violence. The recommendations also extend to developers in hopes that they will design in consideration of age appropriateness and developmental stage.

The APA report follows a longitudinal study in the JAMA Pediatrics journal conducted at Iowa State. The study involved self-reporting of aggressive thoughts and behavior.

The full report, which directly addresses the vilification of gaming in mass media around violent incidents, can be found in full here.

[Source: American Psychological Association]


Our Take
This report reaffirms what we know so far, but aggregates data from a wide range of studies as further support. There is still no link between playing video games and criminally violent action. However, it seems clear that video game players do become desensitized to violence and prone to more aggressive thoughts. The Iowa State study suggests that mellows with age, which means that this is an issue of parenting as well as development.