Video games can be beneficial in teaching, in eye-hand coordination, and in developing a host of other skills, but, there are a lot of articles on the effect of violent video games on behavior. A new study, co-authored by Brad Bushman, Ohio State University communication and psychology professor now shows that there are longer term effects on aggression, than found with a single session of playing a violent video game. The Ohio State University education archive ‘Research News’ report of 12/10/12 quotes Bushman as saying, ‘It’s important to know the long-term causal effects of violent video games, because so many young people regularly play these games. Playing video games could be compared to smoking cigarettes. A single cigarette won’t cause lung cancer, but smoking over weeks or months or years greatly increases the risk. In the same way, repeated exposure to violent video games may have a cumulative effect on aggression.’ In the study, ‘those who played the violent games had an increase in their hostile expectations. In other words, after reading the beginning of the stories, they were more likely to think that the characters would react with aggression or violence.’ See http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/violgametime.htm
A University of Missouri study finds that ‘the brains of violent video game players become less responsive to violence, and this diminished brain response predicts an increase in aggression.’ The study found that ‘participants who played one of several violent games, such as ‘Call of Duty,’ ‘Hitman,’ ‘Killzone’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ . . . were more aggressive-than participants who played a nonviolent game. In addition, for participants that had not played many violent video games before completing the study, playing a violent game in the lab caused a reduced brain response to the photos of violence-an indicator of desensitization.. . . Surveys indicate the average elementary school child spends more than 40 hours a week playing video games-more than any other activity besides sleeping. As young children spend more time with video games than any other forms of media, the researchers say children could become accustomed to violent behavior as their brains are forming. More than any other media, these video games encourage active participation in violence,’ said Bartholow, associate professor of psychology MU College of Arts & Science. ‘From a psychological perspective, video games are excellent teaching tools because they reward players for engaging in certain types of behavior. Unfortunately, in many popular video games, the behavior is violence.’ See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110525151059.htm
Research at The Iowa State University shows ‘a strong connection even when controlling for a history of violence and psychopathic traits among juvenile offenders,’ according to Matt DeLisi, a professor of sociology. Science Daily cites a study published in Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice (April 2013). ‘The results show that both the frequency of play and affinity for violent games were strongly associated with delinquent and violent behavior.’ See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130326121605.htm.
Now the Centers for Disease Control are looking at the effect of violent video games, and in the wake of recent media violence, President Obama and many public figures have attempted to finger media as a source, but some evidence cites other causes. Mary Vicario of Finding Hope Consulting led the OACCA (Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies) workshop on Trauma April/May 2013. She cited a reference from the book, Boy Soldier, where violent American videogames were used to destroy the empathy center of the brain in boys being trained as soldiers. ‘Though not implemented for actual combat training, Liberia used this technique on 10 year old boys, force-ably removed from their families, to teach them to use physical and sexual violence as an act of war during the civil war.’ Now, that the war is over it’s a significant social-cultural problem.
The November issue of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics 2008, presented results of a seminar with research from The Iowa State University Center for the Study of Violence, Professor & Director Craig Anderson. Findings show similar aggressive behaviors in both American and Japanese youth with high consumption of video games. ‘Each of the three samples showed significant increases in aggression by children who played a lot of violent video games,’ he said. See http://www.sciendaily.com/releases/2008/11/081103180252.htm
What should one take away from this? DeLisi, a professor of sociology at The Iowa State University suggested parents gauge their child’s temperament carefully. For an introverted or anti-social child, vulnerable teens, or those allowed to escape for long periods of time into gaming, this may not be the healthiest situation.
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