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Violent video games may not make kids more violent, study finds

Experts say it’s likely that these games don’t lead to harmful behavior

Child playing violent video game
Photo (c) Carles Navarro Parcerisas - Getty Images
A new study conducted by City University London explored the possible risks of kids frequently playing violent video games. According to their findings, these games may not be linked to an increase in violence among kids

“Popular media often links violent video games to real-life violence, although there is limited evidence to support this link,” said researcher Dr. Agne Suziedelyte. “I find no evidence that child-reported violence against other people increases after a new violent video game is released. Thus, policies that place restrictions on video game sales to minors are unlikely to reduce violence.” 

Understanding the impact of video games

The researchers had boys between the ages of eight and 18 involved in the study. They tracked the release of some of the most popular violent video games and interviewed parents to understand how the boys acted. The team was primarily concerned with two types of violence among the participants: the destruction of things and aggression against other people. 

Ultimately, the researchers learned that children weren’t likely to be violent or aggressive towards others following the release of violent video games. However, kids may be more likely to be destructive with the things in and around their homes after playing these types of games. 

While many parents may be hesitant to allow their kids to play these types of games, the researchers believe these findings explain how exposure to violence in this way can affect kids in their day-to-day lives. 

“Taken together, these results suggest that violent video games may agitate children, but this agitation does not translate into violence against other people -- which is the type of violence which we care about most,” said Dr. Suziedelyte. “A likely explanation for my results is that video game playing usually takes place at home, where opportunities to engage in violence are lower. This ‘incapacitation’ effect is especially important for violence-prone boys who may be especially attracted to violent video games.” 

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