Study: violent video games do not cause players to become more violent

Boys and girls playing Pandemic board game
Boys and girls playing Pandemic board game

Brad Wilcox re-tweeted a tweet that mentioned this study which I think is interesting. It’s important to me that Christians not get sucked into every fad crisis.

Story from U.S. News and World Report: (links removed)

In truth, there’s no evidence to connect violent video games to violence in society. Several studies, such as by psychologist Patrick Markey and economist Scott Cunningham, have linked the release of popular violent video games with immediate declines in societal violence. Correlation between the consumption of these games and societal reductions in youth violence were well established, but these newer studies suggest there may be some causal element to this.

Studies of youth also call into question whether a link between violent video games and aggression exists. In a 2015 meta-analysis of studies examining video game effects on youth, little evidence emerged for causal links between violent video games and behavioral problems in youth. Likewise, studies have not supported that a population of youth exists who are “vulnerable” to game effects. One recent study from the University of Missouri found that neither young adults diagnosed on the autism spectrum nor neurotypical young adults became more aggressive when exposed to violent video games. Nor, in a study I conducted with Cheryl Olson, were these games associated with bullying or delinquency among youth with pre-existing mental health symptoms. This is not to say that all studies agree: Over the years, some have found evidence for some kinds of effects (usually on minor aggressive acts, like filling in the missing letters of ki__ as “kill” rather than “kiss”); others have not. But gradually, the evidence has weakened, and it has become clear that media effects research has become part of psychological science’s larger replication crisis, where many effects once thought true are now proving difficult to replicate with better, preregistered studies.

This is also reflected in the scientific community where surveys of scholars and cliniciansfind little evidence for a consensus that effects exist. Indeed only a minority of scholars and clinicians agree that violent video games cause aggression or violence in society. And as is common for generational disagreements over new media, the split even among experts finds older experts more inclined to view video games in a negative light.

Because of all of this, some criminologists have taken to referring to links between violent video games and mass shootings specifically as a “myth.”

Although I do believe that violent video games don’t cause people to me more violent, I do think that it increases tolerance for other people committing violence, which is why I don’t play them. I am a gamer, but I never play violent first-person shooters. My favorite games are military simulators like Harpoon and Command, as well as cartoon-y retro dungeon crawlers (Etrian Odyssey series) and cooperative games like Keep Talking and No One Explodes or the board game Pandemic.

I just think that it is important that we not malign boys any more than is accurate for their different male natures. Boys are more aggressive than girls. It’s not a mental disorder, it’s being a boy. If it wasn’t for this aggressive male nature, we would have no soldiers and policemen to fight evil with force.

10 thoughts on “Study: violent video games do not cause players to become more violent”

  1. I am sure these are fine stats but I would love to see how the regular exercise of ‘virtual’ aggression and the kinds of rude and disregarding comments affect the subjects practice of altruism. How does it affect the way the view and process the world they live in. I am guessing that is absolutely affected.

  2. I sense a fair amount or rationalization going on here. Pearl is absolutely right. The conscience gets erased with virtual killing and violence. I don’t care about what these studies say, this is obvious common sense.
    Real men do not play video games – they either make men effeminate or just screw up the mind, the brain, and the soul (usually both). Boys need to be outside, in the real world, doing sports, being competitive, playing army, etc. I hate video games and everything they do to kids. I am a physician and I see daily how minds are destroyed by unrestricted use of the internet and video games in children. So, yes, I feel pretty strongly about this topic. Good parents protect their kids form technology. Kids and adolescents just lack the discernment and self-restraint to protect themselves from the brainwashing that is the inevitable result of all this mental garbage.
    Serial killers, and sicko sexual predators are almost all addicted to video games and immured to every kind of violence. It’s truly a slippery slope, and one is wise to never open the door.

      1. so you have played Mortal Kombat? and granted Grand Theft Auto is not a good idea at all but what makes it different from playing a military game of Call of Duty?

          1. but in GTA that isn’t the premise of the game, and its the players choice to hurt innocent, same thing as its a choice to play tennis or go to a strip club.

  3. Given that other studies have noticed that– duh– folks who are attracted to violence are attracted to violent video games, the logical conclusion would be that some portion of the people who are already going out and doing violence are pulled to newly released violent video games instead. Sadly, the effect wears off….

    I’ve got a low tolerance for any sort of graphic or lingered-over/gloried in violence– I’m That Girl who has to cover her eyes when the masochist starts cutting his own arm. I’ve simply thought over the situations way too much and the trained urge to react is overwhelming. (Plus, deliberately causing pain is a berserk button.)

    I’d guess that at least part of the “tolerance for others doing violence” result is actually backwards— people need a bigger “dose” of violence to get the same reaction because they’re not familiar with it, and their mind doesn’t have the same reaction structure. Look at the mass shootings where you’ve only got a handful of examples of people attempting to charge the attacker, even though it’s overwhelmingly successful.
    No trained response, no “payoff” emotionally. You don’t have that adrenaline rush.

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