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.
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.
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.