Association Between Violent Video Game Play and Aggression among Adolescents
Whether violent video games are a harmless pastime or a facilitator of aggressive behavior is a subject of continuing public debate and scholarly inquiry.
A 2011 study by Brock University researchers published in Developmental Psychology, “A Longitudinal Study of the Association Between Violent Video Game Play and Aggression Among Adolescents,” investigated the link between aggressive behavior and violent video game play over time. Researchers asked a group of 1,492 Canadian high school students about incidences of aggression, the type and intensity of their video game play (both violent and nonviolent) and more general questions pertaining to overall well-being and community between 2004 and 2008.
The study’s findings include:
- “Participants who reported higher sustained violent video game play also had steeper increases in aggression scores over time than participants who reported less sustained violent video game play.” This finding remained consistent regardless of the participant’s gender, household income, mental health, quality of social ties, computer access or academic performance.
- “Frequency of aggressive behaviors … did not significantly predict higher levels of frequently of violent or nonviolent video game play over time.” This finding challenges the “selection” theory of video game violence that suggests that more aggressive individuals gravitate towards more violent types of video games.
- Playing nonviolent video games predicted lower levels of aggression in high school juniors and seniors.
- “In comparison to girls, boys reported greater frequency of overall video game play, violent video game play, and aggression, while girls reported more nonviolent video game play than boys.”
“Violent video game play may influence an individual’s level of direct aggression by promoting aggressive beliefs and attitudes and creating aggressive schema, aggressive behavioral scripts, and aggressive expectations,” the authors state. They tempered this assertion by noting the mixed reliability of self-reporting and the lack of direct evidence. “Nonviolent video games often differ from violent video games on several dimensions besides violence, such as competitiveness and pace of action.”
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods, and Applications, “Killing is Positive! Intra-Game Responses Meet the Necessary (But Not Sufficient) Theoretical Conditions for Influencing Aggressive Behavior,” investigated video games’ effect on player desensitization, facilitation, and disinhibition and found that “playing first-person shooters did elicit these requisite patterns of cognitive, physiological, and emotional states” but that experienced game players becomes less aroused when engaged in general gameplay mechanics and more aroused when fighting and killing.
Tags: youth, technology, bullying
Note to instructor: The suggested assignments are designed for flexibility. They can be used in whole or part and can be adapted to a particular task -- for example, the newswriting assignments could be applied to the writing of the headline, the lead, the nut graph or the full story. Material from the assignments could also be combined with other material, for example, in the writing of a background, feature or local-angle story.
Read the Developmental Psychology study "Longitudinal Study of the Association Between Violent Video Game Play and Aggression Among Adolescents."
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the issue-related USA Today article "Ruling Puts Regulation in Game Designers' Control."
- If you were to revise the article based on knowledge of the study, what key changes would you make?
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.