New Book Cites Research on Video Games, Kids & Aggression

Dr. Craig Anderson of Iowa State University has a new book out, Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research, and Public Policy.

It’s pictured at left, with Manhunt on the cover.

According to an ISU press release, the book, co-authored by ISU prof Douglas Gentile and PhD candidate Katherine Buckley is the first work to link research and public policy in the video game violence debate.

Later this week Anderson and Gentile will present their research at a meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development in Boston.

Among their findings:

Cartoonish game violence (Captain Bumper, Otto Matic) raised aggression levels in the same way as more graphic T-rated games like Street Fighter and Future Cop. Said Gentile:

Even the children’s violent video games – which are more cartoonish and often show no blood – had the same size effect on children and college students as the much more graphic games have on college students. What seems to matter is whether the players are practicing intentional harm to another character in the game. That’s what increases immediate aggression – more than how graphic or gory the game is.

The researchers also found that among 189 high school students surveyed, those who had more exposure to violent games tended to hold more pro-violent attitudes, had more hostile personalities, were less forgiving, believed violence to be more typical, and behaved more aggressively in their everyday lives. Anderson said:

We were surprised to find that exposure to violent video games was a better predictor of the students’ own violent behavior than their gender or their beliefs about violence… We were also somewhat surprised that there was no apparent difference in the video game violence effect between boys and girls or adolescents with already aggressive attitudes.

A third study detailed in the book looked at 430 children in grades three through five. Results showed that kids who played more violent games early in the school year saw the world in a more aggressive way and became more aggressive – both verbally and physically – later in the school year. 

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