Do Video Games Cause Violent Behavior in Children?

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Do Video Games Cause Violent Behavior in Children?

By | November 2011
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Do Video Games Cause Violent Behavior in Children?
The presence of video games in the lives of children is obvious. Childrean are spending increasing amounts of time playing video games. In one study it was found that children spend an average of 9 hours per week playing video games (Gentile et a., 2004). The violent nature of video games to which children are exposed is of specific concern. Therefore it is important to assess whether the active involvement of playing a violent video game leads to more aggression in children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently released a policy statement on media violence, which includes video games as well as television, movies and music. The AAP cites studies that link exposure to violence in the media with violent behavior in youths. The AAP policy describes violent video games as one of many influences on behavior, noting that many children’s television shows and movies also contain violent scenes. But the authors believe that video games are particularly harmful because they are interactive and encourage role-playing (AAP1496-497). As such they have expressed concern that these games serve as personal rehearsals for actual violence. Many studies reason that children learn by observing, mimicking and adopting behaviors. There is also concern that exposure to aggressive behavior or violence in video games and other media may, over time, desensitize youths by numbing them emotionally, leading to aggressive behavior and bullying. Some casual observers go further, assuming that tragic school shootings prove a link between games and aggression.

However there are many sources in direct opposition to the idea that video games cause violent behavior. For instance, the Harvard Mental Health Letter contends that much of the research relies on measures to assess aggression that son’t correlate with real world violence, and some studies are observational and don’t prove cause and effect (Harvard...

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