Violent Video Games Not A Cause Of Aggession In Kids - Study
    By News Staff | December 14th 2010 02:10 AM | 11 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    Depression in young people strongly predicts how aggressive and violent they may be or may become, but exposure to violence in video games or on television is not related to serious acts of youth aggression or violence, at least among Hispanics in the U.S. according to new research by Dr. Christopher Ferguson from Texas A&M International University. 

    Violence in media and the potential negative effects on adolescent antisocial behavior, and youth violence in particular, is a highly debated issue, both in academic circles and among the general public and policy makers but the research is inconclusive largely due to methodological problems.

    For this study, Ferguson recruited 302 mainly Hispanic youth between the ages of 10 and 14 years, from a small Hispanic-majority city population on the border of Mexico. They were interviewed twice – once at the start of the study and again 12 months later. 

    Ferguson looked at their exposure to violence both in video games and on television as well as negative life events, including neighborhood problems, negative relationships with adults, antisocial personality, family attachment, and delinquent peers. He also assessed the styles of family interaction and communication, adolescents' exposure to domestic violence, depressive symptoms, serious aggression, bullying and delinquent behavior.

    His analyses show that 75 percent of young people played video games within the past month on computers, consoles or other devices, and 40 percent played games with violent content. Boys were more likely than girls to play violent games. One year later, 7 percent reported engaging in at least one criminally violent act during the previous 12 months, the most common being physical assaults on other students or using physical force to take an object or money from another person. Nineteen percent reported engaging in at least one nonviolent crime during the same period, with shoplifting and thefts on school property at the top of the list.

    In addition, Ferguson found that depressive symptoms were a strong predictor for youth aggression and rule breaking, and their influence was particularly severe for those who had preexisting antisocial personality traits. However, neither exposure to violence from video games or television at the start of the study predicted aggressive behavior in young people or rule-breaking at 12 months.

    Ferguson concludes: "Depressive symptoms stand out as particularly strong predictors of youth violence and aggression, and therefore current levels of depression may be a key variable of interest in the prevention of serious aggression in youth. The current study finds no evidence to support a long-term relationship between video game violence use and subsequent aggression. Even though the debate over violent video games and youth violence will continue, it must do so with restraint."

    His findings will appear in Journal of Youth and Adolescence.


    In response to your article, I believe that there is still a connection between violent games and violent behaviours of the people who partake in them. A shocking statistic of 89% of games containing some violent content shows us that this is a concerning danger. Are we willing to take the risk?
    Your article states that the reason for aggressive actions is a result of depression. Is it possible that depression is a direct result of excessive gaming? Yes. There are more studies proving the gaming can be linked to both obesity and poor grades in high school students. Exciting games played late at night can also cause sleep and/or memory problems. Addiction to gaming can prove to be an escape from the real world for some, similarly to drug and alcohol addictions. These factors are all promoting anti-social behaviours in a person, which could lead to depression.
    In conclusion, I believe that although your studies prove that aggressive actions are a direct result of depression, this can still be indirectly related to violent games and addictions to them.

    Sure, and keep in mind this is one study ("a highly debated issue") and not the final word.   It obviously makes no sense to claim that smoking on television, drinking on television, misogyny or whatever else might be on TV would have an impact on impressionable minds but violence will not.

    The key aspect is how impressionable.   Banning all games because a few kids inclined to be violent anyway become more inclined to be so would be like banning all cars, or limiting us to ones that go 5 miles an hour, because some people die due to idiots text messaging.
    I personally play violent video games all the time. Yes I am a teenager, but I am a strait a student, I do not start fights, I don't threaten people. I have never once gotten in trouble in school. I know several other people with this same situation. You can't blame aggression on something like video games because video games are not real therefore it isn't really an influence. Agression is due to personal problems such as things like the article says depression and family issues. You should hold people responsible for their actions and let them suffer the consequences, not blame it one something they do. 98.7 percent of people have played a violent video game at one point or another. If that's the case then we could blame almost 100 percent of crimes on violent video games. But thats not the case. Crimes are committed, not because of a game that nobody actually takes seriously. Crimes are committed for personal reasons. If someone robs a bank it is normally because they have financial issues, not because they saw it in a video game. The argument that video games cause violence is quite stupid. They don't cause agression or crimes. It's just some people are aggressive.

    Sure, is is often the case that people take outlier results, look for a cause, and then ban the cause they think they found, without considering there are multiple drivers that may turn a kid or an adult into a homicidal maniac,
    Before blaming the video games, we should scrutinize the way each individuals are educated (or not) among their families. It appears that neglected and mistreated children risk to become violent... and there are legions of mistreated kid across the USA... and all those problems could lead to the depression.

    So, if many tested kids are neglected, maybe the results of the test are colored by the kids ' family situation...

    Happily, watching violent movies and playing violent video games don't make antisocial kids. Lack of parental attention and lack of family stability is far away more damageable.

    I have an issue with this study, respectfully. You say that youth who play video games were not more aggressive, but in your study did you identify how many hours they played violent video games. What was the definition of violence? Were they playing first person shooter games? The factors that were not addressed are key factors that would have to be identified in order to truthfully say that. Your sampling seems extremely small without sufficient monitoring or what appears to be any control group. There is significant research on this subject already showing strong connections. In particular by Lt. Col Dave Grossman. This study seems flawed to say the least.

    Gerhard Adam
    I still think that people are confusing the results of these studies and perhaps even looking at the wrong issues.  It would be a stretch to say that violent games CAUSE violent behavior any more than smoking in movies causes people to become smokers.

    However, if someone has violent tendencies or traits that predispose them to violence, then such games may play a role in desensitizing them to its actual use.  Similarly if someone is inclined to smoke, then smoking in movies can become a rationalization for it.

    When the subject of influences comes up, it shouldn't be assumed that an influence is synonymous with a cause, however it should be equally clear that many such influences can justify or rationalize behaviors that are already a part of someone's personality.   Every decision we make is the result of choices and options we've integrated into our thoughts, so while any particular exposure isn't sufficient to generate a particular outcome, it will certainly play a role in which choices we may elect to act on.  That is precisely what the purpose in all forms of training is, and it would be ridiculous to suggest that hours of mental conditioning (even in games) is completely without effect.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Mr Adams,
    According to you, Is it possible that violent video games are used by many to evacuate frustrations and agressivity ?If yes, maybe, there are some parallels to draw between violent video games and heavy metal concerts where thug-like young people listen in peace ?

    Gerhard Adam
    Once again, I was trying to be quite precise in suggesting that violence in games, movies, etc. is not a CAUSE of violent behavior.  My only point is that if such an inclination already exists, then such activities may de-sensitize an individual and be easier to rationalize.

    ...thug-like young people...
    What does that mean?  Is this based on behavior or appearance?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Only appearance. I only wanted to put an impression on the illustration... Anyway, I am agree with you when you said that violence exist. Game or not. But, If horror and violent movies obtain success among teenagers, is it possible, that is because it is a way to cope with the idea, and the anxiety, that they will die one day ?

    P. S. English is not my language.