The vast majority of people would agree that video games promote critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork in children who play them. On the other hand, many people also believe that violent video games promote aggressive and violent behavior in real life, but the existing research on the subject is very limited.
One of the main catalysts for the prevalence of this discussion is mass public shootings, with some believing violent video games to be potentially influential in the run-up to the event. However, there are usually other more obvious contributing factors, such as relaxed gun laws and mental health issues.
In 2013, President Obama called for more government-funded research to explore the link between violence and video games. He wanted to know whether restrictive policies should be put in place to reduce access to these games.
A recent study led by Dr Agne Suziedelyte of the Department of Economics at the University of London set out to deepen the link, focusing specifically on violent behavior among gamers.
The study focused on violent behavior among boys aged 8 to 18. This is the demographic group that would be most likely to play violent video games.
The violent tendencies that could result from gambling have been divided into two categories: destruction of property and assault on others.
Instead of using a basic association methodology, Dr Suziedelyte used econometric methods that could identify the potential causal effects of violent video games on violence. However, no evidence has been found of such causation, with the data showing no correlation between the increase in violence and the release of a violent new video game.
Despite this finding, parents often reported that their children were more likely to destroy items in the home after playing violent video games.
“Taken together, these results suggest that violent video games can agitate children, but that agitation does not translate into violence against others – which is the type of violence that is most important to us,” explained the Dr Suziedelyte.
âA likely explanation for my results is that video games are usually played in the home, where the opportunities for violence are lower. This “incapacitation” effect is particularly important for boys prone to violence who may be particularly attracted to violent video games. Therefore, policies that place restrictions on the sale of video games to minors are unlikely to reduce violence. “
The research was published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.
Through Calum Vaughan, Terre.com Editor-in-chief