Gaming Violence Linked to Real-Life Agression

Brad M. Griffin | Mar 16, 2010

The debate has swirled for years about whether more exposure to on-screen violence leads to more real-life violence and aggression. That debate has narrowed over the past 10-15 years to studies of exposure specifically to violent video games.

Taking a big-picture look at existing research, psychologist Craig Anderson (the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University) and a team of researchers recently released a report detailing a meta-analysis of studies exploring various aspects of video gaming and violence. The submitted draft of the report, published in the March Psychological Bulletin, is available online if you want to check out the details and method. You can also read a summary from U.S. News & World Report.

The basic conclusion of the meta-analysis is that increased exposure to violent video gaming does in fact lead to (in research language, is a causal risk factor for) increased aggressive thinking, feeling, and behavior, as well as overall physiological arousal, and decline in prosocial (helping) behavior and empathy. This is true for girls as well as guys, and seems to be true for both short-term and long-term play. In a fascinating twist, Japanese studies found similar results to U.S. studies.

The research team feels strongly that this is a conclusive study, finally answering the question about violent gaming and violent thinking, feeling, and acting. A bigger and more complex question seems to be, what do we do about it? We wrote earlier this year about guys and gaming and about helping parents in their conversations with kids about gaming. Both articles contain some ideas to get the ball rolling, but Im curious about what helpful strategies youve used in addressing violent gaming with teenagers and their parents (and perhaps in your staff and volunteer team, and your own personal practices).

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, blogger, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and the series Can I Ask That?: 8 Hard Questions about God and Faith. Brad and his family live in Southern California.


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