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APA Confirms Link Between Violent Video Games and Aggression

A man and a woman playing video gamesThe American Psychological Association issued a task force report confirming a link between violent video game play and increased aggression, sparking backlash from many academics familiar with the subject. The organization is unsure about whether the link extends to criminal violence or delinquency because the evidence is insufficient.

Ongoing Debate About Video Games and Violence

Video games have long been the subject of academic debate, and many people have long expressed concern that video games might result in violence. More than 200 academics responded to the APA Task Force on Violent Media when it was first appointed in 2013 with an open letter to the APA. The letter cites problems with existing research linking violence in video games to increased aggression, as well as the appearance of bias among the task force that issued the report.

All seven members of the task force are older than age 50, and critics often argue that age might contribute to an anti-video game bias. The letter expressed concerns about how two members of the task force had previously advocated for regulation of violent video games, signing a 2011 amicus brief in favor of such regulations. The letter’s authors also pointed out that youth violence had plummeted since video games were invented and that aggression did not necessarily lead to public health issues or violent crime.

The APA task force reviewed 170 studies between 2005 and 2013. Though many of the studies found a link between violent video game use and aggressive behavior, the task force also found shortcomings, including failure to control for gender, little research on children under age 10, and reliance on short-term evidence. Because research into video games is relatively new, the task force found that no longitudinal studies were able to account for the long-term effects of video games.

The report provoked a swift response from some psychologists involved with the open letter to the APA. They argue that the evidence in favor of a link between violent video games and aggression is either inconclusive or nonexistent. They also claim that many of the studies cited by the task force were poorly designed or showed only a weak connection between video games and aggression. Of the 170 studies the task force examined, only 31 met the most stringent criteria for psychological research.

The Future of Video Game Regulation

At its August 7 meeting, the APA Council of Representatives voted in favor of increased video game regulation. The APA called on the Entertainment Software Rating Board to further refine its rating system to reflect the degree and type of violence in each game. This resolution will replace a similar one made in 2005.


  1. APA review confirms link between playing violent video games and aggression. (2015, August 13). Retrieved from
  2. Futter, M. (2015, August 14). More than 200 psychology scholars speak out against APA video game aggression task force. Retrieved from

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  • joaquin

    August 17th, 2015 at 3:09 PM

    THere seems to be a lot of confusion information out there because didn’t I just see something very recently that talked about the benefits of some of these games? Everything in moderation is my thought about it.

  • APfail

    August 17th, 2015 at 3:11 PM

    this is the same panic as comic books and movies rehashed with the same arguments for a different media.

  • Diane

    August 17th, 2015 at 4:17 PM

    I hope that they are also looking for other things that could cause the violence because I am not sure how you could ever say that this one thing is what is causing it.

  • juanita

    August 18th, 2015 at 1:20 PM

    curious about what other large medical based groups have to say about this?

  • cate

    August 18th, 2015 at 3:09 PM

    pish posh look at the home lives of the these kids
    that’s the thing that leads to violence

  • Timothy

    August 19th, 2015 at 5:03 PM

    BS.I’ve been gaming all my life and never been violent. Everyone I know that games isn’t violent.

  • Kell-ster

    August 20th, 2015 at 2:00 PM

    There will be people who say that the games are fine and there will be others who state that the games are harmful. I am not sure which faction is right, but what I do believe is that certain people are going to have specific tendencies to react to the violence in one way or another. There will be those who can shrug it off and understand that it is only a game, while there are others who will seriously internalize the graphic and violence and who will make this a part of their everyday existence. I am not sure what causes that or what the triggers are, and I don’t think that the games are even going to do this to a majority of people, but I do think that in the wrong person, exposure over time can have deadly consequences.

  • geoff

    August 22nd, 2015 at 8:10 AM

    Great, more regulation… just what we need :/

  • Milford M

    September 4th, 2015 at 12:40 PM

    WASHINGTON — “Violent video game play is linked to increased aggression in players but insufficient evidence exists about whether the link extends to criminal violence or delinquency, according to a new American Psychological Association task force report. The research demonstrates a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behavior, aggressive cognitions and aggressive affect, and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy and sensitivity to aggression,” says the report of the APA Task Force on Violent Media.

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