Do Violent Video Games Affect Your Kids?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

An Iowa State University research team says “yes” and that they have the data to prove it.  According to ISU:

Iowa State researchers, led by Distinguished Professor of Psychology Craig Anderson, have collaborated on a new study that analyzes 130 research reports on more than 130,000 subjects proving exposure to violent video games makes more aggressive, less caring kids — regardless of their age, sex or culture.

Dr. Anderson, the lead researcher, goes on to draw the following conclusions from the research:

We can now say with utmost confidence that regardless of research method — that is experimental, correlational, or longitudinal — and regardless of the cultures tested in this study [East and West], you get the same effects. And the effects are that exposure to violent video games increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior in both short-term and long-term contexts. Such exposure also increases aggressive thinking and aggressive affect, and decreases prosocial behavior.

Now what does this practically mean?  You’ll have to read the detailed report to find out, but my amateur take on it is that watching extreme violence all the time is bad for your child, and probably bad for you, as an adult, as well.  If you have a child who is is already prone to aggression and anti-social behavior, violent video games are not going to help – they will hurt.  This seems obvious, but I guess the ISU research team wanted to publish the “final word” on it, although there is never the final word on anything scientific.

At least this study gives parents some more ammunition in dealing with their kid’s video game playing.

  • To me, there is a big difference between the violence found in something like Grand Theft Auto, and the violence of a military game like Call of Duty. I wonder if the research differentiates between the two.

    I have seen those over the years say the Bible was a bad influence on kids because of all the violence within it. Again, there is a difference between the Bible and the random horror, murder movie.

  • Bill Pratt

    Steve,
    Good question. I would assume the report answers that question somewhere in it, but we would have to dig. It seems to me that the context of violence is important, as you mentioned. Games where wanton, random violence is glorified would seem to have a different effect than games where violence occurs, but it is in the context of some pursuit of good.

  • Paul Lack

    I would just like to say as a gamer I do not think that violence in video games can harm you that a movie. I have been playing them from about the age of 8, and they have not effected me one bit. I do understand that some children will try and do what they see on there TV screen, but everything they see should be controlled by there parents.

    Many people go on about Grand Theft Auto being so bad, however it’s know worse than the a Mafia movie.

    I just want people to understand it’s not the video game that’s bad, they are are made for a specific audience (adults) and if a parent doesn’t know what there child is playing they are not doing there job right.

  • I like it. Bill, do you have kids that have a gaming system, and do you have kids who play violent games?

  • thanks Bill

  • Im also having to do an editorial paper due in a few weeks, son thanks Bill! 🙂

  • ayisha

    thank you very much Bill for this post, im a year9 student sturdying for a debate on weather violent video games should be banned and you post about the reseach really helped me, i just wish there were examples of how people turned violent from too much video games 🙂

  • Jake Hayworth

    As a teenager who occasionally plays video games with some violence in them, I agree that violent video games do desensitize kids to violence on some level and makes a certain kind of individual more aggressive. However, what I don’t understand is the people who claim that violent video games cause people to commit violent crimes. People who commit school shootings are already mentally unstable and violent people before the first time they ever played a video game. Did they use violent games to desensitize themselves? Probably. However, to ban video games with violence is absurd, as the overwhelming majority of people who play them will never commit a violent crime and play in moderation. Now I will say that ultra-violent games with no purpose such as Saint’s Row and Grand Theft Auto are over the top, however I do not think they should be banned, but perhaps parents should not be able to buy them for children under the age of seventeen.

  • sean

    perhaps parents should not be able to buy them for children under the age of seventeen… says the kid of the age what? yeah…

  • Alberto

    I think so too Bill. I played video games from my very childhood and some had violence, like shooting and stuff, but it was generally against monsters that appeared evil from the start, not against innocent people. Now I’m a 22 years old and I’m a very quiet person who pursues God.