Sure, we know, but they usually don't. Violent video games are always a favorite (and easy) scapegoat. Pundits are quick to point the finger, using "clinical findings" to back up their claims. Not every study says that, though. Take Dr. Cheryl K. Olson, author of Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games, doesn't and instead dismisses the link. She says ineffective research that uses smaller sample sets and lower playing times renders such games-make-kids-violent findings suspect. Studies for Grand Theft Childhood used larger sample sets of kid players and had the children talk about what they were already playing. The book was based on a $US 1.5 million research project at the Harvard Medical School with focus groups that consisted of 1,200 middle school kids and their parents. The depth of this project supersedes the typical games-make-you-bad research that typically has college students play violent games for 15 minutes or so. Says Dr. Olson:
We did not set out to prove that violent games cause aggressive behavior. First, you can't show cause-and-effect with a one-time survey. Second, the causes of aggressive behavior are extremely complicated; teasing out the specific contribution of video games is near impossible, especially since kids who are already aggressive seem to prefer violent games and movies... Many children in our survey, as well as our focus groups with boys who play violent games, said they played games to manage their feelings. This included playing games to "help get my anger out," to forget problems, to relax, and to feel less lonely. Children who played at least one M-rated video game "a lot in the past six months" were significantly more likely to agree that getting anger out was one reason they played video games.
Regarding perennial target Grand Theft Auto, the study says that the kids didn't see the in-game characters as role models and that they didn't see the games as real life. Check out the entire interview below. It's definitely worth a read. Olson Talks Grand Theft Childhood [Game Couch via 1Up via Go Nintendo][Pic]