Are We Overthinking This??

Over the holiday weekend, I was having a conversation with my cousin who is a roofing contractor. I was telling him about this blog and we were debating whether or not there is a relationship between playing violent video games and engaging in violent behavior; he doesn’t think there is.

Maybe He’s Right….

I cannot find a single definitive study that shows there is causal relationship between these two activities. To be sure, there are studies that link playing violent video games with increases in aggressive behavior, as I pointed out in an earlier post. But, an increase in aggression is still a far cry from an overt act of violence. How is it possible that violent video games have become more and more popular, as well as increasingly more graphic and “real life”, and yet, the number of violent juveniles has decreased in recent years (according to the Department of Justice)? I don’t have the answer, but here’s something to consider. As adults, we sort of expect there to be a relationship between the two activities. After all, it makes perfect sense: hours of playing violent games = an increase in violent behavior. They seem to go hand in hand. However, the statistics just don’t support that conclusion. Perhaps, as my cousin pointed out, maybe kids are much more aware that what they are playing is only a game, even though many grown-ups see much more than that.

An Interesting Fact…

A lot of the negativity towards violent video games has come from some of the mass shootings in the U.S. It has been revealed that many of the killers in these tragic incidents played hours upon hours of violent video games. But did you know this??? The game that consumed Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook incident) was “Dance Dance Revolution.” He did play some violent games but this game was his obsession, which is very difficult to comprehend. I still can’t believe that one.

My Theory…

I do believe that violent video games lead to increases in aggression. I also believe that for the vast majority of people, this increase isn’t a problem. Having said that, I therefore believe that for a very, very small percentage of people, it is a problem. A very serious problem. Like the APA report indicated, playing violent video games is a risk factor. If you add that factor to a list of other risk factors, then I think we’re looking at very unstable individuals. If my theory is right, the question becomes this, “How do we identify this minuscule population of people and prevent further violence?”

I’m not sure. But please come back tomorrow to see what I’ve dug up as I continue to look for answers.

The APA Study Takes Some Heat!!

Well, it didn’t take long for academics to react to the APA study indicating a relationship between playing violent video games and increases in aggressive behavior. An article published on BBC by Zoe Kleinman revealed that a group of over 200 academics have signed an open letter criticizing the report by the APA Task Force on Violent Media.

The Issue

It is important to note that the APA did not conduct new research, it analyzed the results of over 150 studies on the subject. The main issue with the APA’s report is that many of the studies used by the APA to support their conclusion were not subjected to peer review. In scientific research, peer review is important because it subjects research papers to independent scrutiny by qualified experts. The process of peer review adds a level of quality control to the publication process and therefore increases the validity to what the research concludes. As could be expected, the open letter points out the lack of peer review in the APA’s report.

Refutable Evidence?

One piece of evidence used in the open letter to rebut the APA’s conclusion was particularly interesting. The letter points out that youth violence is at a 40-year low. If this statistic is true, then the APA’s conclusion doesn’t explain how the rate of youth violence is going down when exposure to violent video games, and violent media in general, is going up?

But is the APA’s Conclusion Wrong?

The APA’s report concluded that there is a relationship between playing violent video games and increases in aggressive behavior. The report did not claim a relationship between playing violent video games and committing acts of violence. For all of the open letter’s criticism of the APA’s report, I have not found any indication that there is any disagreement with the APA’s conclusion. Whether or not playing violent video games leads to acts of violence is a question that must be studied in much greater detail. However, the link to playing violent video games and increases in aggression is well documented. As the APA report pointed out, playing violent video games is only one risk factor that can lead to violent behavior; this one factor alone cannot be said to cause violent behavior.

As you can see, the sides of this argument are quite divided. I’ll continue to do some research to see what other relevant information is available. I hope enjoyed this post. Please come back tomorrow for more information on this subject.

Is there a Correlation between Violence Video Games & Violent Behavior?

There’s quite a considerable amount of debate about whether or not playing violent video games can lead to violent behavior. My goal here is to summarize some of the research that’s out there and put it up on this blog so that readers can evaluate the available information on their own. I’d like to present the material as neutrally as possible so that everyone can decide for themselves.

My first post on this subject will be a summary of an article published by the American Psychological Association (APA) titled, “APA Review Confirms Link Between Playing Violent Video Games and Aggression.” If you would like to read the article in it’s entirety, please click this link for the American Psychological Association.

To begin, it is important to mention that the article confirms a link between playing violent video games and aggression, not criminal violence; a very important distinction.

The report was published by the APA Task Force on Violent Media, which examined research literature on violent video game use that was published between 2005-2013. All in all, the task force reviewed 150 research reports that were pre-2009, and 170 articles that were published between 2009-2013. The task force concluded, “The research demonstrates a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behavior, aggressive cognitions and aggressive affect, and decreases in pro-social behavior, empathy and sensitivity to aggression.”

Mark Applebaum, Ph.D, who was the chair for the APA Task Force, stated that there is little research addressing the question about whether or not playing violent video games can lead to committing physical violence. However, Applebaum did state that the link between violent video games and increased aggression is, “one of the most studied and best established in the field.”

The report went on to say that aggressive and/or violent behavior is the result of the accumulation of various risk factors and not the result of the presence of any one particular risk factor. However, within the spectrum of risk factors that can lead to aggression and/or violent behavior, playing violent video games is a factor.

Please come back again tomorrow as I look to find information that might refute the APA Task Force’s conclusions.

Where to begin…

Thanks for stopping by. If you haven’t had a chance to read my “About Me” page yet, please allow me to tell you a little bit about the purpose of this blog. Basically, I will be examining whether or not there is a correlation between gaming and human violence. In other words, does playing violent games make people more violent? In some of my readings on recent mass shootings in the US, there has been suggestions that, for some people, there is a direct correlation. Some would say it’s a very strong correlation. With that in mind, I will be presenting relevant statistics and studies to help you make up your own mind on this matter.

I’m still doing some research for my first post on this subject and I promise to have it up on the blog some time tomorrow.

I hope you will come back and check out what I’ve written!! Have a great night!!