New Study Finds Violent Games Might Cause Increased Aggression In Youths

Nine-year-olds probably shouldn't be playing GTA anyway.

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A new analysis claims to confirm that violent video games do have a direct causal link to physical aggression. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, studied more than 17,000 adolescents from age nine to 19, between the years of 2010 and 2017. It concluded that playing violent games does lead to increased physical aggression over time.

USA Today reports that the meta-analysis reviewed 24 studies from multiple countries, including the USA, Canada, Germany, and Japan. It suggested that the youths who played violent games had an increased risk of violent behavior. Jay Hull, the lead author of the study, said the impact was "relatively small but statistically reliable." His own prior study found that playing violent games roughly doubles the risk of being sent to the principal's office for fighting, and it was included in the meta-analysis.

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"A lot of people ask, do these games really cause these kids to behave aggressively? I would say that is one possibility," he said. "The other possibility is that it's a really bad sign. If your kids are playing these games, either these games are having a warping effect on right and wrong or they have a warped sense of right or wrong and that's why they are attracted to these games. Either way you should be concerned about it."

In a statement, the Entertainment Software Association--the industry lobbying group that organizes E3--rejected the findings.

"The US Supreme Court, leading medical professionals, including the US Surgeon General, and study after study already concluded definitively that there is no link between video games and violence," an ESA spokesperson told GameSpot. "The truth is that violent crime has decreased dramatically since the early 1990s, while video games have increased steadily in popularity and use. It is also highly questionable to interpose ethnic characteristics in this research. The same video games played in the US are enjoyed by gamers all over the world and there is no similar international trend of violent crime like the authors claim."

The criteria being used may explain some of the dispute between the study and the ESA. An American Psychological Association task force found in 2015 that violent video games increased aggression, but didn't have enough evidence to conclude that it causes an increase in criminal violence. The study suggests that the increase in violent behavior may be relegated to schoolyard fights, without necessarily then going on to cause an increase in criminal behaviors.

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