Violent Video Games Don’t Make Kids Violent, Study Finds

child playing video gameViolence in video games has long concerned parents, who worry about the influence on impressionable minds of controversial games such as Grand Theft Auto. In many games, players score higher when they break the (virtual) law, behave violently toward others, and maximize the pain inflicted on other players.

So pervasive is the idea that violent video games cause violent behavior that a 2010 survey found that 49% of adults believe that violent games can inspire some people to commit real-life atrocities. A study published in Psychology of Popular Media Culture undermines this claim, suggesting that violent video games do not increase violent behavior. Instead, the researchers argue, duration of play is what matters.

Violent Video Games Might Not Cause Violent Behavior

Researchers interviewed about 200 10- and 11-year-olds about their video game-playing habits. They also asked the children’s teachers about their classroom behavior, problem-solving skills, and academic engagement. Two-thirds of the children reported playing video games each day, with boys almost twice as likely as girls to engage in daily game playing. About 10% of children reported playing games for more than three hours each day.

Children who played video games for less than an hour each day showed lower rates of aggression than children who did not play at all—even when the games in question were violent ones. Children who played for longer than three hours each day, however, had higher levels of aggression and lower levels of academic engagement. The study’s authors argue that their results show that daily video game play is not linked to an increase in aggression. Instead, prolonged play may increase aggression, though the study did not illuminate why this might be.

The Video Game Debate Rages On

Researchers in the study were careful to point out that new technologies often inspire a moral panic. At various times, parents have worried about the effects of violent movies and television, aggressive music lyrics, and even radio shows. With each technological advancement, though, there hasn’t been a sudden new wave of crime.

So, the jury is still out on the effects of video games. Research consistently finds benefits such as an increase in spatial reasoning skills, but some studies have uncovered a correlation between violent games and violent behavior. A 2014 study found that kids ages 8 to 17 who played many violent video games displayed an increase in violent behavior, even three years later. Another study found an increase in violence among teens who played violent video games.

The way a video game affects an individual child may depend on a number of factors, including parental involvement, the child’s personality, how much time the child spends on games, and similar components of a child’s environment.

References:

  1. 22 charts and graphs on video games and youth violence. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://videogames.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=003627
  2. Bingham, J. (2015, April 1). Study finds no evidence violent video games make children aggressive. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/11507576/Study-finds-no-evidence-violent-video-games-make-children-aggressive.html
  3. Rettner, R. (2014, March 24). Do violent games boost aggression? Study adds fire to debate. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/44325-video-games-aggression-debate.html
  4. Violent video games make teenagers more aggressive, study finds. (2012, October 8). Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/video-games/9593188/Violent-video-games-make-teenagers-more-aggressive-study-finds.html

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  • 49 comments
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  • Dee

    Dee

    April 14th, 2015 at 10:24 AM

    I have often felt myself at odds with what the current philosophy has been for a while which was the school of thought that the games did make kids violent. Look, I have boys who are just naturally aggressive and yes they like to play the video games now that I would not always choose for them. That’s what is hot right now. But just because they engage in this play does not mean that they don’t then know the difference between right and wrong it is just a game and I think that most kids are smart enough to recognize that this is not how we act in the real world!

  • jason

    jason

    April 14th, 2015 at 11:49 AM

    I think this study also left out some other details that would be difficult to control/measure. Take, for example, a child playing games for three plus hours and isn’t very good versus a child playing three plus hours and is very good. Child A would probably get frustrated after so much time had passed playing a game which could turn into aggression outside of a play session. Child B could show fewer signs of aggression since there are fewer triggers for aggressive behavior. Perhaps Child B may even be happier after having had three hours of success playing a game.

  • Justine

    Justine

    April 14th, 2015 at 12:37 PM

    I don’t know, I do think that there are some kids who will be more susceptible to showing out when they have spent long hours playing these violent games. But maybe they would have been just as likely even if they hadn’t played the games? Who knows!

  • Isaac

    Isaac

    October 17th, 2016 at 10:38 AM

    thats exaclty why they have ratings ive seen kids playing gta 5 going to the strip club wtf immature as hell thats why they have ratings

  • unknown

    unknown

    January 26th, 2017 at 1:01 PM

    People almost never listen to game ratings, i see 11 year olds doing everything possible playing GTA5
    of course i have too, games are ment to be fun, not arousing, but kids will be kids and beg for games not for them

  • Zac

    Zac

    April 14th, 2015 at 4:40 PM

    This is stupid video games do not cause violent behavior thats like saying aggressive movies and lyrics etc.. Cause violent behaviors so people please listen to reason

  • georgia

    georgia

    April 15th, 2015 at 2:43 PM

    If there is no harm then why are they even rated? And why is it even put on there what ages this is appropriate for? Not every movie or song is going to be appropriate for all ages,. and neither are video games.

  • Jorden

    Jorden

    April 4th, 2017 at 6:03 PM

    Ratings are just a suggestion

  • c

    c

    April 10th, 2017 at 7:14 PM

    lol

  • matthew

    matthew

    April 20th, 2015 at 11:15 AM

    some games i can understand but the games that come to mind are the ones that i myself can play for hours on end and i am perfectly happy all the time i think its the child’s environment that my cause violence like for instance a child raised in a violent family may exert a little violence while a child in a non violent family might not exert any violence at all

  • Pace

    Pace

    April 20th, 2015 at 3:41 PM

    Really?!?

    because I have two young boys and let me tell you, when they see anything that is even remotely gritty and violent that is exactly hat they want to act out. I don’t know that if that means that one day they would bring that level of play to their everyday lives but if I can shield them from that then I am going to.

  • emilee

    emilee

    February 17th, 2017 at 12:24 PM

    me too

  • Banana man

    Banana man

    February 8th, 2018 at 9:13 AM

    They are kids they think it is cool or awesome they wouldn’t do those kind of thing =s in the real world unless you never thought them a sense of justice or responsibility

  • Phillip

    Phillip

    April 23rd, 2015 at 6:10 PM

    Yeah Pace but you have to look closely at the other things that the boys are being exposed to too. Are they around other kids who cause this kind of behavior to come out? Do they watch TV shows that display a lot of violence? Are they just naturally aggressive little boys? There are so many things that could factor in to all of this that I think that it’s hard to just pinpoint one thing and assign the blame there.

  • hots boost

    hots boost

    July 7th, 2015 at 5:23 AM

    The computer and video games debate is becoming more and more intensive through the last few years and for a reason. Science and psychology professionals are trying to measure the effects games especially ones including violence have. Together with the dangers such as addiction and decreasing self-control, computer games promote science, culture, help improve memory, concentration and competitiveness.

  • Jayden H

    Jayden H

    September 3rd, 2015 at 11:11 AM

    i play xbox for almost 6-7 hours a day, not to mention i am in 10th grade and play on 2 soccer teams. i have never gotten into a fight or got a detention. I love violent video games and i play them all the time. video games dont cause violence.

  • Jay

    Jay

    January 27th, 2017 at 12:30 PM

    true, im in 7th grade and im always playing on my ps4, always call of duty and im not violent at all

  • jason

    jason

    November 17th, 2015 at 6:42 AM

    Games are not bad its the way the kids react to the game.

  • mymomma

    mymomma

    December 16th, 2015 at 11:25 AM

    hi

  • conner

    conner

    January 18th, 2016 at 2:05 PM

    I don’t know.
    being in 10th grade and being a very avid gamer my self and I don’t find my self any more violent after playing violent games its when things get competive and I have to keep doing the same thing over and over again

  • pineapple

    pineapple

    February 9th, 2016 at 8:17 AM

    I think that violent video games are fine, and really fun! :). I believe that parent THINK that they make kids more violent….but really, it’s more of the friends, people at school, movies. You can’t blame it all on video games, parents. That’s all I wanted to say :)

  • Bungy

    Bungy

    March 20th, 2017 at 10:24 AM

    Amen

  • Brayden

    Brayden

    March 30th, 2017 at 11:05 AM

    Some games i can understand but the games and tv shows that come to mind are the ones that i myself can play for hours and watch on end and i am perfectly happy all the time. I think it’s the child’s environment that my cause violence like for instance a child raised in a violent family may exert a little violence while a child in a nonviolent family might not exert any violence at all, so games and tv shows don’t cause violence it’s the child’s environment.

  • Puppy monkey baby

    Puppy monkey baby

    February 10th, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    Why do they rate them?

  • dovahkiin

    dovahkiin

    March 4th, 2016 at 5:40 PM

    the games have ratings for a reason and most games tell you to like save the world or save innocent people (COD battlefield assassins creed) so if they actually pay attention they should be violent towards the wrong people

  • Dab

    Dab

    April 15th, 2016 at 11:04 AM

    I play for 12 hours and im good so game on

  • PG

    PG

    September 6th, 2017 at 11:27 AM

    hmmm..

  • Jake

    Jake

    April 18th, 2016 at 4:09 PM

    my father has seen the way i drive when i play GTA V and the way i drive in real life and he used to think that i would end up incorporating gameplay into real life but in GTA V i have killed at least 300 people for getting in my way however in real life when someone cuts me off i just shrug it off and say “Well someones in a Hurry today”

  • Tyler

    Tyler

    May 13th, 2016 at 10:09 AM

    hello

  • Rk R

    Rk R

    May 13th, 2016 at 5:04 PM

    Violent video games may not increase violence in real life TO THOSE WHO CAN DISTINGUISH REALITY FROM FARCE. Those with mental problems may not realize they are even doing something bad, as horrible, gruesome violence is rewarded and repeated in the game. Psychologically, it can have only a small effect of increased violence, or maybe decrease it. The problem is that it puts images and ideas into people’s heads. If a complete psycho gets a gory idea from a game, might he act it out? Who knows? Why don’t we know? because we don’t research and treat mental illness enough. That should definitely be prioritized over slight factors such as video games.

  • Isaac

    Isaac

    October 17th, 2016 at 10:33 AM

    i have been playing video games all my life and i have never been aggresive the only thing that people think that video game make people aggresive is people get frustrated because they keep om dying or trash talk online and people keep on pissing the person which leads to rage quitting and people with that have problems and they need help

  • GayLemon

    GayLemon

    October 20th, 2016 at 3:41 PM

    I have been playing games since i was 7, violent and nonviolent . i have not been in a fight or anything, i dont have the urge to kill. The argument that violent games caused violence is absurd, when i play games i know that what i do in the game i cant do in the real world, i can go from playing 4 hours of a violent game and then i can just go right back into life, i can go to work and be friendly and smile. Its those who cant understand whats right and wrong that are the problem, not everyone who plays games

  • you

    you

    November 8th, 2016 at 1:10 PM

    Hi

  • Zany Z

    Zany Z

    January 4th, 2017 at 6:58 PM

    Although I thought that your article was excellent for the way that the information was used, I really would’ve hoped for the use of some more provable information in your article. For example, when you said, “children who played video games for less than an hour each day showed lower rates of aggression than children who did not play at all,” I felt that this quote was very misleading. First, when I heard the statement that children showed lower “rates” of depression, I became seriously curious as to how exactly one would measure how aggressive someone is. Therefore, this fact is actually a misleading opinion. “Aggressive” is not something that can be measured as a unit, but has to be determined through using human interpretation which can vary between individuals. Secondly, this quote that I’ve derived from the article doesn’t say anything about aggressive video games, but only talks about video games in general. I understand: I just said that “aggressive” can’t actually be defined, but this information shouldn’t be used towards your claim at all in the scenario given. I would maybe suggest using some information on the crime rates in relation to the number of video games rated for violence that have been previously been produced (possibly use data from the same time era and provide a graph to demonstrate a change in the number of crimes committed in relation to the number of violently-rated video games produced by the ESRB). As well, I saw a fact earlier in your article (49% of adults…) that really made me take their side at that point in time, and I was really waiting to hear another data-based fact that would immediately prove the statement to be incorrect, but I found myself disappointed and agreeing even more with their opinion on the issue of video games making children violent. Other than that, you had a very professional, short and sweet article!
    Thank you for your time,
    Zany Z (name used to protect identity)

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    January 5th, 2017 at 7:29 AM

    Thank you for your comment and feedback! The references for further reading at the bottom of this article may help address some of the points you mentioned. (For instance, the first link indicates that aggression may be measured in crime rates and recorded instances of violence among children and teens.)
    We hope that helps!
    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Zany Z

    Zany Z

    January 6th, 2017 at 9:21 AM

    Thank you very much, I appreciate that you got back to me so quickly!
    Have a great day,
    Zany Z

  • KoalAlpaca

    KoalAlpaca

    January 6th, 2017 at 9:10 AM

    An article from Good Therapy states that contrary to people’s beliefs, video games do not cause violence when they are played within moderation. Within the article the author talks about the effects of violent video games on a child’s brain. Some children who play video games for more than 3 hours a day have been proven to be more influenced by their actions in the game. A part of the article states that “Children who played video games for less than an hour each day showed lower rates of aggression than children who did not play at all—even when the games in question were violent ones. Children who played for longer than three hours each day, however, had higher levels of aggression and lower levels of academic engagement,”(Good Therapy). So for example, If a child plays A very violent video game for 1 hour the effects of the game wouldn’t be so drastic on them but if a child played a violent video game for 5 hour the effects would be much greater. Those effects would most likely be blurring the lines between the real world and the virtual one.

  • poop

    poop

    January 13th, 2017 at 10:05 AM

    Although I thought that your article was excellent for the way that the information was used, I really would’ve hoped for the use of some more provable information in your article. For example, when you said, “children who played video games for less than an hour each day showed lower rates of aggression than children who did not play at all,” I felt that this quote was very misleading. First, when I heard the statement that children showed lower “rates” of depression, I became seriously curious as to how exactly one would measure how aggressive someone is. Therefore, this fact is actually a misleading opinion. “Aggressive” is not something that can be measured as a unit, but has to be determined through using human interpretation which can vary between individuals. Secondly, this quote that I’ve derived from the article doesn’t say anything about aggressive video games, but only talks about video games in general. I understand: I just said that “aggressive” can’t actually be defined, but this information shouldn’t be used towards your claim at all in the scenario given. I would maybe suggest using some information on the crime rates in relation to the number of video games rated for violence that have been previously been produced (possibly use data from the same time era and provide a graph to demonstrate a change in the number of crimes committed in relation to the number of violently-rated video games produced by the ESRB). As well, I saw a fact earlier in your article (49% of adults…) that really made me take their side at that point in time, and I was really waiting to hear another data-based fact that would immediately prove the statement to be incorrect, but I found myself disappointed and agreeing even more with their opinion on the issue of video games making children violent. Other than that, you had a very professional, short and sweet article!
    Thank you for your time,
    Zany Z (name used to protect identity)

  • Nightmare

    Nightmare

    February 14th, 2017 at 12:13 PM

    There is no use to rate video games if people are not going to read the rating.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous

    February 15th, 2017 at 11:01 AM

    I enjoyed your article it tells some awesome facts but I do agree with Nightmare because not just a few people but a ton of people dont pay attention to the ratings.

  • the maddixinator

    the maddixinator

    April 4th, 2017 at 10:13 AM

    my mom just died so be nice i am h

  • connor

    connor

    May 22nd, 2017 at 6:54 AM

    I am h hello

  • Ivan

    Ivan

    May 16th, 2017 at 10:03 PM

    You can use the Cultivation theory by George Gerbner, one of the points of this theory is that time of stimuli if very important for a behavior. This post is all i needed for a research im doing for college, thank you :)

  • Brooke

    Brooke

    May 24th, 2017 at 11:46 AM

    I think the Video Games debate will always rage on but people make them seem more obnoxious than they really are and if you think they are, moderate them. Control what your children see and play. Thats just my opinion.

  • Bob

    Bob

    November 18th, 2017 at 8:47 PM

    I played mw2. I’m a serial killer

  • Banana man

    Banana man

    February 8th, 2018 at 9:14 AM

    same here

  • Destiny P

    Destiny P

    November 30th, 2017 at 10:45 AM

    I agree, video games do not cause violence. Books has just as much violence as a game, show, or movie. Books never get blamed for violence. To be honest, some kids can’t get certain games that are rated mature,or M, and you must be a certain age to get them. So how do kids get them? An older relative or their parent who buy them the game. When a kid acts up, what do they blame for their kids behavior? They blame video games.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous

    May 30th, 2018 at 7:39 PM

    I think that it really depends on the age of the child as well as their personality, as some children get more easily affected by these violent videogames. The maturity of the child could also play part in their response to these violent games.

  • Debra

    Debra

    August 19th, 2018 at 9:57 PM

    My son has been playing Roblox for at least 5 years now, ever since he started he has been nothing but a foul mouthed little brat. Z*** (my son) has been begging me for so long to buy him robux and vbucks (whatever those are, they are probably like that bitcoin thing) I always tell him no but today he eventually punched me right in the mouth saying im just noob I don’t understand (what is a noob?)

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