Effects of Violent Video Games

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EFFECTS OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES

A meta-analytic review of the video-game research literature reveals that violent video games increase aggressive behavior in children and young adults. Experimental and non-experimental studies with males and females in laboratory and field settings support this conclusion. Analyses also reveal that exposure to violent video games increases physiological arousal and aggression-related thoughts and feelings. Playing violent video games also decrease pro-social behavior.

The Surgeon General in 1972 issued the following warning about violent TV programs (which can be applied violent gaming as well): "It is clear to me that the causal relationship between televised violence and antisocial behavior is sufficient to warrant appropriate and immediate remedial action.… There comes a time when the data are sufficient to justify action. That time has come."" (Steinfeld, 1972) That was over four decades ago. In the years since this Surgeon General warning issued, hundreds of additional studies have shown a link between violent media exposure and aggression (e.g., Anderson & Bushman, 2002a). The Surgeon General warning was about violent TV programs and films. Nevertheless, how does this relate to violent video games being the new obsession?

There are at least three reasons to believe that violent video games might be even more harmful than violent TV programs and films: I.Video game play is active, whereas watching TV is passive. People learn better, when they are actively involved. II.Players of violent video games are more likely to identify with a violent character. If the game is a first person shooter, players have the same visual perspective as the killer. If the game is third person, the player controls the actions of the violent character from a more distant visual perspective. In a violent TV program, viewers might or might not identify with a violent character. People are more likely to behave aggressively themselves when...
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