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Media Violence Research Update

From the May 2001 Newsletter

FROM THE WEB SITE OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON MEDIA AND THE FAMILY*

 

 

Concern about violent video and computer games is based on the assumption that they contribute to aggression and violence among young players. The research base for that assumption is growing in spite of industry denials. Some in the industry insist that there is absolutely no evidence that playing a violent video game leads to aggressive behavior. That is not true.

 

In a forthcoming meta-analysis, Dr. Craig Anderson and Dr. Brad Bushman from Iowa State University statistically analyze 35 different studies involving 4,262 individuals, most of whom are younger than 18. They conclude that "violent video games increase aggressive behavior in children and young adults." Research reported last year by Dr. Craig Anderson of Iowa State University and Dr. Karen Dill of Lenoir-Rhyne College demonstrated such a causal link.

 

Dr. Douglas Gentile, director of research at the National Institute on Media and the Family, Paul Lynch of the University of Oklahoma, and I have begun a program of research on the effects of video and computer games on children and teens. While the entire program will take a number of years and sufficient funding to complete, I am able to report a number of preliminary findings here. These results are based on responses from over 700 teens in grades 8-12 and include a subset of 43 "at-risk students," defined as those students who have had legal involvement. Among the findings:

  • 86% of teens own video and/or computer games. The average amount of time teens play is 9 hours per week, with boys playing significantly more than girls (13 compared to 5 hours).

  • 27% report that their parents think they play video games too much.

  • 43% of 8th and 9th graders report that they like more violence in their games compared to two or three years ago.

  • 63% have customized their games.

  • 20% report that they have felt "addicted" to games and 36% report that they have friends who are "addicted" to games.

  • 54% of 8th and 9th grade boys have bought M-rated (Mature) games with their own money.

  • "At-risk" boys play significantly more than their peers (16 hours per week) and play more violent games.

  • Youth who report an increased appetite for violence in video games are more likely to have gotten into physical fights in the previous year.

Even these few statistics demonstrate that the concern about children's access to violent video games is well-founded and is not, as the industry claims, simply an issue for politicians and child advocates.

 

 

*NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON MEDIA AND THE FAMILY. This is a national resource for teachers, parents, community leaders and other caring adults who are interested in the influence of electronic media on early childhood education, child development, academic performance, culture and violence. It is headed by Dr. David Walsh, Ph.D., 606 24th Avenue South, Ste. 606, Menneapolis, MN 55454, 888-672-5437.  One of the most helpful features is KIDSCORE, an innovative content-based rating system that evaluates video and computer games, movies and television from a family-friendly perspective--GREAT RESOURCE!