Do Video Games Increase Aggression or Complement Psychotherapy? Both

The psychological impact of video games depends largely on who is playing them, according to the Review of General Psychology. The journal devoted its June issue to comprehensive explorations of the various ways in which people, especially children and adolescents, are psychologically influenced by video games. This included the well-known correlation between violent video games and aggressive behavior, but also explored more positive connections, including social skills and psychotherapy.

In the area of video games and aggression, which is one of the most common associations between gaming and mental health, researchers found that there is, indeed, a correlation between violent games and aggression. However, the link is not necessarily a causal one. Adolescents and children with certain pre-existing behavioral and mental traits were more likely to be susceptible to influence from violent video games. These traits include higher tendencies toward neuroticism, lower levels of agreeableness, and lower levels of conscientiousness as compared to their peers. These children, after playing violent games, were documented as being more hostile and aggressive. But children who were less neurotic, more agreeable, and more conscientious were influenced very little, if at all, by the violent games.

The journal also explored potential positive connections between playing video games and cognitive behavior. Specific to the field of psychotherapy, the study found that video games can serve several helpful roles: they can function as a means to evaluate cognitive skills in younger patients, can help younger patients feel more comfortable and cooperative within a psychotherapy setting, and can provide a means to clarify conflicts that arise during therapy. Other potential ‘upsides’ of video games include findings that they can be learning tools to teach kids how to manage specific health conditions, to facilitate dialogue between parents and kids, and to give parents and children common ground for spending time together.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • lewis

    lewis

    June 10th, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    so,I guess I can take it that there is no doubt whatsoever that violent video games promote aggressive behavior!

    okay,so what I want to say is-if violent video games can cause this negative effect,then can we actually use some nice,reward-for-good-deeds kind of a game for people in therapy…?!that would be a great thing if it can actually be achieved,isn’t it…? :)

  • Ginny

    Ginny

    June 10th, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    No matter what anyone says playing video games all of the time cannot be good for anyone but especially those who have a predisposition toward violent or aggressive behavior to begin with. That their parents would continue to buy them these games that only promote this behavior really does stun me. Parents think that these games are harmless but that is so not true. They do way more harm than they do good- what ever happened to old fashioned games and spending family time together? Does no one think that this has value or is important anymore?

  • keiron D.

    keiron D.

    June 11th, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    I have always been a safe driver and have never got a ticket for speeding.But I started gaming along with my son last year and in just over 14 months I have got two tickets for speeding.I didn’t think much of it until I read this and now I am quite convinced it is because of all the racing games I have been playing that I tend to driver faster than before.

  • I.Costa

    I.Costa

    June 11th, 2010 at 4:47 AM

    That violent video games do tend to make a person more aggressive is well-documented and even proved.But what exactly is being done to curb this?Yes,there are ratings for almost all games but how many parents are actually bothered to know and see what games their child is playing or how many stores do actually check the age of the buyer??

  • Janna

    Janna

    June 12th, 2010 at 6:32 AM

    So what do we do- ban the video games? Is it enough to limit playing with them?

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