New Study Claims Violent Video Games Make Teenagers More Aggressive

New Study Claims Violent Video Games Make Teenagers More Aggressive

The battle over whether and how violent media damage the youth of the world who consume them continues apace. The latest study adds fuel to the argument that violent games are bad for kids.

There is a link between increases in physical aggression over time and playing aggressive video games, a team of researchers has found. A team of psychological researchers from Brock University, in Canada, published a paper in the journal Developmental Psychology looking at teenagers’ hostile real-world behaviour and how many violent video games those teenagers play.

The Telegraph reports that the study asked just under 1500 teenagers at a high school in Ontario, half boys and half girls, to self-report their own aggressive behaviour — shoving, kicking or punching other people — regularly over the course of four years. As the students aged from ninth grade (ages 14-15) to 12th grade (ages 17-18), “analysis showed that teenagers who played violent video games over a number of years saw steeper rises in their aggression scores during the study.”

The analysis did account for some other factors in the teenagers’ lives likely to account for increased aggression, including “gender, parental divorce and marijuana use”. However, the study leaves open the distinction between correlation and causation. Publicly available materials leave unclear in which direction the link might actually go: do the games cause teenagers to act aggressively, or are teenagers with aggressive dispositions more likely also to play violent games?

Longitudinal studies, like this one, are the best way to discover long-term effects and true connections. And now that high-definition, plausibly-textured gaming has settled in to so many households so comfortably, we will see more of them looking at the effects of Halo and Call of Duty on the children of the world. In the meantime, the Telegraph throws out one nugget to avoid blanket condemnation of video games: the teenagers who played non-violent games apparently didn’t go around punching or kicking people any more than usual. Seems like they never saw how ticked off Super Hexagon or Angry Birds can make some of the people I know.

Violent video games make teenagers more aggressive, study finds [The Telegraph]


  • I do think it is niave to scream NOT TRUE! at thease kind of studys…..the media we consume affects us in many ways

    hence why adult entertainment is for adults…

  • This type of study is still no excuse for watered-down R18+ rating change efforts, unless you’d also like to blanket ban alcohol and tobacco because some people are poor parents and some shopkeepers have insufficient ethics.

    • Yeah- but the justice system in this country really is a joke.

      Kids are violent these days because their parents are shit, the internet and everything we’ve ever seen is available to them the day they get some idevice. Their social patterns are totally different, they consume more american media on average, they have a poorer diet (ie fast food, do you see the amount of kids hanging out at macas and shopping centres wtf? We never did that- pretty americanized sort of behaviour) and have a ‘body image’ sort of mind frame before they get to puberty- also sexual behavior in early teenage years if not before. There’s a lot of other pressure around than video games.

    • +1.
      But then the jocks start whining about how the geeks are attacking sport because they can’t play etc etc ad nauseum.

    • I think studies have already been done on this and the answer is yes.

      I still think things like domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual abuse, bullying and so on have a far greater effect on kids’ levels of aggression and behaviour. Plus, there is just normal hormonal changes which induce aggression in young boys.

      Playing video games seems like it would be incidental. Maybe the kids eat hamburgers too. Or drink soft drink. Correlation doesn’t imply causation.

  • Hmm, I’d say that the increase emphasis on guys proving they’re “teh shit” or trying to prove to everyone that they don’t have a small dick increases violent behaviour. Especially when it’s exasperated by like minded people in online games.

  • So did this “study” take into account the lack of rules, rule enforcement, and general parenting at home? no? well what a surprise!

  • The analysis did account for some other factors in the teenagers’ lives likely to account for increased aggression, including “gender, parental divorce and marijuana use” lol… marijuana use?? in my experience smoking weed made me much much much less aggressive

  • I’d like to see the actual link to the study please, specifically the full disclosure of who is funding the study.

    Full disclosure, or it didn’t happen.

      • If funded by the Christian Council Against Gamers, it would be highly biased just as if it was funded by Activision and showed the opposite. Vested interests are important to know in these things.

      • It sounds like a fairly honest report really, says how that did the study doesn’t assume causality. But, having said that. My first thought one way of looking at the study is it showing that teenage who play violent video games are more honest.

  • “New Study Claims Violent Video Games Make Teenagers More Aggressive”

    What? ANOTHER ONE? Just stop it people.

    • So you want people to stop doing research into what effects video games can have on people? You don’t want there to someday be a general consensus on all the effects, positive and negative? What if it’s not all BS, what if certain types of games can have detrimental effects on certain types of people?

      I love games as much as the next guy, and I understand that many of these studies are heavily biased and certainly not definitive, trying to justify an argument that has already been started, but I don’t think you should condemn all research on the subject because of this.

  • I have a different problem, I find that I imitate non-violent games. I’ve been wandering around for weeks with a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle, describing fighting styles of complete strangers as being akin to that of a dairy farmer and I once tried to give stylish confetti to a heavily armed clown…

    I need help…

  • I think it would have been nice to live in the olden days before video games, what a peaceful place it must have been.

    • Wow… according to Wikipedia, the first was in 1947 – an analogue missile simulator on a CRT. Had no idea it was so early… So, yes, for the 18 months after WW2, it must have been a very peaceful place… 😛

  • Maybe it’s because all the kids who used to beat up nerds who played video games now play video games themselves.

  • I don’t think we would have the term ‘RageQuit’ if there wasn’t some emotional effect, the thing that annoys me most is that I see just as much (and worse) acts of violence and rage from sports players (male and female – young and old). Sports is just seen as more positive so we accept the bad eggs and even celebrate them in some ways.

    Anything… ANYTHING that causes frustration can link to violence in almost anyone.
    My uncle makes sculptured furniture… a very Zen hobby – but I have seen him throw his chisel and mallet because he f’ed it up. Welcome to being emotionally invested… can’t be passionate about anything without it.

  • New study claims something something… yawn.

    Wake me when the conservatives and everybody over 45 dies.

  • I think it’s entirely plausible. I don’t think we can absorb any stimuli without it affecting us somehow. If music can make you feel good, movies can make you feel sad, books can make you feel aroused, then surely games can make you angry. And obviously Glee can make you vomit.

  • Every single one of these terrible ‘academics’ has lead to me ignore practically every ‘study’ I read about in the media. It’s like they’re oblivious to their measurement flaws or their lack of ability to tell the difference between correlation and causation.

  • Do Teenagers who play violent games become violent or do teenagers who were already violent seek out violent games? These studies never take into account the direction of causality.

  • Self-reported? Couldn’t that imply that people who play violent games are more likely to report their aggressive behaviour? Perhaps it’s because violence to them is a way to prove themselves and validate their existence. Similar to how depressed people are more likely to be realistic about their moods and abilities.

    Personally, it’s starting to become such an eternal argument I wouldn’t be surprised if some of it is because people are starting to think that if they play violent video games, they must really be violent people and start to restrain themselves a little less, perpetuating the cycle.

  • Any study that links aggression with games and aggression with marijuana in the same sentence should have been thrown out from the start. Have you ever seen someone smoke a few cones and then go looking for a fight? Didn’t think so. Getting up of the couch for more snacks is a godamn ordeal, let alone getting into fights lol.

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