Stephanie F. Olson
This essay explores the evidence in support of a correlative and/or causal relationship between video game violence and increased aggression in children. A variety of studies are cited, including independent studies, longitudinal studies, meta-analyses and physiological experiments. The conclusion of the writer is that there is sufficient evidence to support the increase in aggression in children is causally affected by their exposure to video game violence.
First Person Shooter
Rapid gunshots filled the air, then muffled moans and shrieks sounded in the living room. The phone rang for the sixth time in the kitchen before Mom could answer with a breathless, “Hello?” She listened intently as the voice of Christian’s teacher on the other end explained that earlier that day Christian had threatened to “blow up the school.” “But he’s only in the third grade,” Mom thought as she quietly hung up the phone. She turned toward the living room where the cries of the wounded emerged as more shots were fired and shouted, “Christian, turn that video game off. . .we need to talk!” For decades psychologists have studied the effect of violent television programming on children. Now a new source of media violence has worked its insidious way into children’s lives. Although it is only an emerging body of research, the evidence is clear. Video game violence makes children more aggressive. The History
In America today, “youth between 8 and 18 spend over 40 hours per week using some type of media” (Anderson, 2003, p. 143). Television is still the most common form of media involvement, but video game play is rapidly growing in popularity. In this essay the term video game is used to refer to games played on any electronic system ranging from console stations, to hand-held devices, to computers. The advent of video games first emerged in 1977 with the introduction of Pong – a simple game similar to digital ping-pong. In the relatively short period of time since then, the graphics and realism of video games has increased exponentially. By the early 1990s, it became apparent that violent video games sold better and formatting of the games evolved from a third-person viewpoint to “first-person shooter”. In this format, the view of the player is as if they are the character and can see through his eyes, rather than seeing the whole character. The action in these games takes place as if the player is firing the gun, or stabbing the victim, or using his own fists. The high level of violence the player must display in these games is glamorized, reinforced, and rewarded. The relationship between the violence kids see and how they behave is not quantifiable, but numerous recent experiments reveal that even minimal exposure to such violence can cause an increase in aggressive behavior. The Evidence
One longitudinal psychological study revealed that “viewing. . .violence at age 8 was a significant and positive predictor of serious adult criminality twenty-two years later independent of social class, intellectual achievement, or parenting variables” (as cited in Smith & Donnerstein, 2003, p. 74). Many individual studies show a correlation between video game violence and increased aggression, but to get a clearer picture of the danger we turn to meta-analyses. Meta-analyses are statistical summaries of all empirical studies relating to a particular topic. They provide researchers with a more accurate statistical estimate of the effects considered in the studies. According to Anderson in his meta-analytic study of the effects of video game violence on aggression, “Overall, the results showed that exposure to violent video games significantly increases aggressive behavior, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and aggressive cognition” (p. 153) and that it causes a significant reduction in pro-social...