Study Calls Media Violence Public Health Threat

November 28, 2007 -
A new study which appears to have the support of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concludes that media violence - including video game violence - is an emerging public health threat second only to smoking tobacco.

Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study by L. Rowell Huesmann (left) of the University of Michigan holds that consuming media violence adds a significant risk that the viewer will act aggressively in both the short and long term.

In conducting his research, Huesmann reviewed over 50 years of data on exposure to various forms of media violence, including TV, film, video game and the Internet. Huesmann, a senior research scientist at Michigan's Institute for Social Research, told Science Daily:
The research clearly shows that exposure to virtual violence increases the risk that both children and adults will behave aggressively... More than 60 percent of television programs contain some violence and about 40 percent of those contain heavy violence.

Children are also spending an increasingly large amount of time playing video games, most of which contain violence. Video game units are now present in 83 percent of homes with children.

Based on their joint research, Huesmann and colleague Brad Bushman believe that media violence significantly elevates the chance that children and adults will exhibit aggressive behavior. How significant is the risk? According to Huesmann:
Exposure to violent electronic media has a larger effect than all but one other well-known threat to public health. The only effect slightly larger than the effect of media violence on aggression is that of cigarette smoking on lung cancer.

Our lives are saturated by the mass media, and for better or worse, violent media are having a particularly detrimental effect on the well-being of children.

As with many other public health threats, not every child who is exposed to this threat will acquire the affliction of violent behavior. But that does not diminish the need to address the threat --- as a society and as parents by trying to control children's exposure to violent media to the extent that we can.

Comments

Did GP (or someone else) modify Huesmann's photo or is he a midget? His head is hugely disproportionate to his body size. Perhaps birth defects can be added to his list as a third public health threat?

What, we're only in second place? We should go after those filthy smokers and claim the top spot! I don't play video games to get silver medals.

@Simon Roberts
lol

@janarius
I like what he has to say, but can we get links to these studies?

Seems like these guys (Huesmann et el) are making the facts fit their theory instead of making their theory fit the facts.

@ Jon

"Honestly, I think more people today are dying from chipmunk attacks than asbestos poisoning."

Or at least RADON. Asbestos is generally considered a lung cancer risk, but has become less and less of a problem because it has not been used in home products for quite some time. RADON also causes cancer. However as it is a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in most basements around the USA. Also it is actually more dangerous in modern / well insulated basements because the insulation traps it, and causes it to concentrate into higher (and more toxic) levels.

This is why the Government already considers RADON the second leading cause of lung cancer in the USA.

Seems like he chose asbestos because it was more recognizable, which further reduces his credibility. It was already low I think, as years of violent media has made me fearful of 'mutants'...

This study is pretty poorly written and seems to lack an appropriate amount of professional detachment. I also wonder about the ethics using a literature review of mostly one's own research to seemingly push an agenda. Almost half the sources he uses are himself or his colleague Bushman and all the sources that seem to deal with the long term effects are by Huesmann and Bushman. Also there is the simple problem with long term studies, which is they tend to have a high attrition rate. The people who stay in the study may have a confound relative to the ones that refuse to continue the study. For example, depending on what incentives were offered to participate in the study (sometimes money is given to participants in studies), the ones who participated may confound the study due to similar socioeconomic status. Also, the longitudinal studies are correlational, which means that violence could cause the interest in violent media, violent media could cause violent behavior, or other factors could cause both. Additionally, the correlation is relatively small.

So... based on this I should be out on a killing rampage right now instead of writing comments here. Sounds logical. *rolls eyes* Not very trustful that the CDC is clamoring behind this, considering it's tied to an administration that's socially backwards. Oh well...

~Sol~

Meta-analysis, the act of studying masses of other people's work to try and find correlating patters, is notoriously inaccurate. It rarely works, and the chances of wrong conclusions is huge.

Unless Mr. Huesmann can come up with his own double-blind study that shows media violence = actual violence his "study" is complete bunk.

Move on.

So they are saying that increasing RISK is the same as a CAUSE and EFFECT? You have a high risk of dying in a plane crash when you get into a plane just like you reduce that risk when you drive in a car... of course you are increasing your risk to die in a car crash. Does not mean you WILL, just the risk of it increases. In other words, this study is blatant missinformation between the facts and the interpritation. In short:

Just because you increase the risk does not mean it is going to happen.

Oh, so we should get rid of things which increase aggression then? Does that include peewee sports teams?

@ Erik

No we should simply ban parents from the games. ;)

I have only three words to say: What the f***?

I sometimes wonder if they even realize what they're saying, because if any of this was true, we'd be a country of mass murderers.

And THAT'S what makes me laugh each and every time someone makes the claim that by simply taking in some form of violent media it makes anyone extremely close to becoming a violent person.

Hilarious. Simply hilarious. One could make the same corollary argument about running water in the home given the ubiquity of televisions and video games..

But, yea, if video games increase violence, shouldn't there be, oh, I dunno, an actual increase or something? Because according to the DOJ, "Since 1994, violent crime rates have declined, reaching the lowest level ever in 2005." Doom came out in mid-December of 1993. If we're to ignore all other risks and socioeconomic factors involved like this guy pretty much just did, it looks like an inverse correlation to me.

Can I has a brazillionty dollar research grant? ^_^

The research clearly shows that exposure to virtual violence increases the risk that both children and adults will behave aggressively…

Then why have only two of the people who have attacked me outright over the years been gamers of any kind?

More than 60 percent of television programs contain some violence and about 40 percent of those contain heavy violence.

1: Those percentages are inaccurate.

2: Violence on T.V. became irrelevent when the ability to block any channel you want became available.

Children are also spending an increasingly large amount of time playing video games, most of which contain violence.

I love when these people don't specify what they mean by "children". The term can easily refer to anyone under 18, or a specific age group, let's say, 5-12.

Video game units are now present in 83 percent of homes with children.

I don't know how accurate that is, but it's irrelevant regardless.

Exposure to violent electronic media has a larger effect than all but one other well-known threat to public health. The only effect slightly larger than the effect of media violence on aggression is that of cigarette smoking on lung cancer.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuullshit.

Our lives are saturated by the mass media,

Wow, he actually stated something true.

and for better or worse, violent media are having a particularly detrimental effect on the well-being of children.

Only if said children are being raised by the family television, which is not the fault of anyone in the media.

As with many other public health threats,

Violent media isn't a public health threat.

not every child who is exposed to this threat will acquire the affliction of violent behavior.

Vilence isn't an affliction, it's a part of human existence. Always has been, always will be.

But that does not diminish the need to address the threat — as a society and as parents by trying to control children’s exposure to violent media to the extent that we can.

That's quite easy, unfortunately, most people aren't up to the task.

@jon

Honestly, I think more people today are dying from chipmunk attacks than asbestos poisoning.

I'm sure the people in their 70s that currently have their lives threatened by cancer caused by asbestos like my grandfather would be overjoyed to hear that it could be worse, they could be chipmunk attack victims.

@Gavin Schmitt

Asbestos is generally considered a lung cancer risk, but has become less and less of a problem because it has not been used in home products for quite some time.

The thing is, the people at the most risk are those that worked in industrial settings. Worked on ships, worked on car brakes, worked on duct work in old buildings. Not home products. Since there are still a hell of a lot of old buildings around that have asbestos in I'm sure we'll be seeing plenty more problems from it for some time to come. Particularly with the poor immigrant workers hired to work on some of these old buildings that have no idea of the dangers, and whoever does the laundry at their house.

"support of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concludes that media violence - including video game violence - is an emerging public health threat second only to smoking tobacco."

20,000 people die in drunk driving accidents every year and the second emerging public health threat isn't alcoholism but them there vidya games and them movin' pictures.

Oh, and is heart disease heart attacks lower than smoking related cancers? Don't think so.

Not to mention the leading cause of death in America is still "bullet-to-the-abdomen-itis".

So these tests in which they gauge aggression how many of their test subjects killed/attack someone? Or is this where they use nerf bats or sound blasts as simulated aggression and somehow correlate that to real world violence.

Aggression is not a bad thing. An aggressive salesman will win out over a passive salesman. I don't want to see that video games cause violence, because frankly there are a lot of people who need to be more aggressive (as society at large seems to be getting sorta wussy), what I need to see is that playing video games somehow negates a person's moral limits.

Aggression is a normal human emotion.

I really wish I could pose this question to these researchers; How, if violent media makes people violent, has violent crime among youths actually DECREASED over the passed 20 years ?

This study is just crap. First of all, the conclusion seem exaggerated. The thought that violent media is worse than a nuclear disaster (Chernobyl, anyone?), natural disasters, non-tobacco health dangers, and even al qaeda is jacked up. These people, with all due respect to them, must have a bias against said media. Secondly, they didn't consider genetic factors as well as poverty, how the child was brought up, and that child's education. These factors are essential. Finally, agression NEVER equals violence. It CAN lead to violent acts, but aggression does not automatically cause violence. Saying that violent media increases aggression isn't satisfactory for the courts.

In the end this study just doesn't show the casual link and other important factors were not even taken into cosideration.

One more thing:
Like Erik said: Aggression is an emotion.

This flawed study brought to you by: The people for the pussification of todays north-American youth.

Thats right, these are the kind of people that think ALL aggression is bad and todays little boys and little girls should be enclosed in a plastic bubble and fed trite mental pablum well into their twenties.

I just love social engineers. I'm glad that I am the one in charge when it comes to what my kids will see and hear(Mostly, y can't watch them 100% of the time Just look at Jack Thompsons little sob story about how his sisters boy went over to a friends house and played GTA and thats why he's after Rock*). These jerks will have to step over my cold, dead body to take that right and responsibility away.

*This public service announcement from your good friends at CDC*

There has been an outbreak of a disease in our building. The disease cause people to lose all common sense and rational fault and blame very complex problems on very benign things, like say kleenex or video games. Please don't be alarmed as other than a very strong dose released in Washington D.C. and a small part in Miami there has only been a small amount of the virus that has managed to escape. While it may ahve infected some of our hospital staff, please don't be alarmed and don't listen to them either as they are not in the right state of mind. We are currently in the proccess of containing this virus and will most likely do so before the situation gets worse.

*Thank you for your time*

Oh and they don't call it JOINT research for nothing, that's actually how they draw their conclusions.

Wow I didn't know violent media could actully hurt somone that must be true! By now you will relize I am not serious and find it hard to belive these people. Oh yeah did you know a study in 2000 said games caused aggression, but they used the games Castlewolfenstien 3D and Myst, two different genres, and only allowed 15 minutes of play time.

-DarthCylon

Wait a minute first the study says this.

"Violent or aggressive actions seldom result from a single cause; rather multiple factors converging over time contribute to such behavior. Accordingly the influence of the violent mass media is best viewed as one of the many potential factors that influence the risk for violence and aggression. No reputable researcher is suggesting that media violence is the sole cause of violent behavior."

Then go on to compare violent media to cigarettes? It boggles the mind how stupid some people can be (and this is supposed to be a proffesional report too).

For those of you not familiar with Huesmann, he did a study that many politicians love to cite, but like all others, has Swiss cheese methodology. He was the one who did the longitudinal study measuring 8-year-olds, and showed that viewing habits back then were positively correlated with violent crime at age 30. This study, of course, had the problem of a high dropout rate, leading to all the data coming from the violent crimes committed by only 3 subjects. Huesmann himself admitted that if not for those 3 boys, there would be no significant statistical finding.

Wow they also contradict themselves in the next two sentences.

"Most youth who are aggressive and engage in some forms of antisocial behavior do not go on to become violent teens and adults [1]. Still research has shown that a significant proportion of aggressive children are likely to grow up to be aggressive adults, and that seriously violent adolescents and adults often were highly aggressive and even violent as children [2]."

So they say most aggressive youth do not become violent adults but aggresive adults? That right there basically admits that aggression is not equal to violence which SHOULD support our side. Then again they say most violent adults and teens (well not even most but a significant portion, the article was written in 1984 and I can't find a copy) used to be aggresive. But wait 2 sentences earlier they said most aggresive youths don't become violent. So they both admit aggresiveness does not equal violence and point out that correlation does not equal causation in 3 sentences without even meaning to, (both of which are points for our side). What geniuses.

And of course the whole graph is based on Correlation. So he's basically saying there's a bigger correlation between violent media and real violence than exposure to lead and low iq scores in children. Of course any idiot will tell you that correlation does not equal causation.

There is no denying that we are all influenced in some way by the media we consume, but that is a Superman sized leap to turns a kid into a killer.

"The best single predictor of violent behavior in older adolescents, young adults, and even middle-aged adults is aggressive behavior when they were younger. Thus anything that promotes aggressive behavior in young children statistically is a risk factor for violent behavior in adults as well."

Once again he contradicts himself here when before he said most aggressive kids do not grow up to be violent (and come on how many little kids do we know that love to knock over towers made out of blocks and have pillow fights). Not only that but anything that promots aggressive behavior? I could think of some board games that promote aggresive behavior within the games. Also as pointed out before, msot studies only show the short term effects. This means that if it promotes a short term aggresive behavior that wears off quickly that suddenly means they'll grow up to become violent. Such heavy bullshit.

"In fact psychological theories that explain why media violence is such a threat are now well established."

Aye so are the theories of how the government did 9/11 and how they faked the moon landing. Remember they are theories.

"Furthermore these theories also explain why the observation of violence in the real world—among family members, among peers, and within the community—also stimulates aggressive behavior in the observer."

Ahem. The sun rotates around the earth. This explains why the sun sets in one direction and rises in the other.

And again he is saying that aggresiveness equals violence which as he just proved earlier is not the case. he just proved was not the case Don't you just love it when people destroy their own arguments for you?

The fact that this guy even brings up displacement effects (e.g. the effects of playing video games instead of reading or doing something productive) makes him seem biased and makes his arguments seem more well pathetic.

I'm not even going to bother responding to the rest of his arguments since they destroy them selves (this paper will self destruct in five seocnds).

http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/218587.pdf

Most of the case numbers are plateauing and have been moving up since 1962, thus meaning video games aren't to blame...

"But that does not diminish the need to address the threat "

*sigh*

And that's what ratings are all about... Protecting people from harmful material.

@ Janarius

Not much to say but DAYUMN, very well done.

ok...but what about the news???

The news has real violence but it is on daily.

What about the impact of violence in news on regular people????

@ TBoneTony

Dunno about you, but I just stop watching it unless there is somthing specific on. Theres always more interesting news on teh intertubes anyway.

we are expose to violence every freak in day..... god...... what the hell is worng with people.

Hey kids, here's a fun game you can play with all of your friends! It's called "Cherry Picker", and it's a real hoot!

Here's how to play:
1) Pick a conclusion that you want your "research" to come to.
2) Throw out any facts or evidence that don't support your conclusion.
3) If you don't have any facts or evidence left after step 2, no problem! Just make up some crap on your own!
4) Publish your results claiming them to be scientific facts.
[Optional] 5) Question the character, patriotism, or even sexual preference of anyone that disagrees with you.

Now you, too, can blame all of todays problems on whatever it is you don't like or understand, and even start wars for fun and profit!

Wow, yet another highly paid puppet. Just what the world needs.

My apologies, i realy need to elaborate more on my comments:

“The research clearly shows that exposure to virtual violence increases the risk that both children and adults will behave aggressively… More than 60 percent of television programs contain some violence and about 40 percent of those contain heavy violence.”

Honestly, how much are these bozos paid to stand on a soapbox and cite false statistics and somehow, by the skin of their teeth, attribute the violence in youth to video games? That, and they also fail to recognize that violent video games ARE NOT TARGETED FOR CHILDREN!

“Our lives are saturated by the mass media, and for better or worse, violent media are having a particularly detrimental effect on the well-being of children.”

Same argument was stated decades ago when television was introduced buddy.

Bottom line, idiots like these need to get their eyes off their pocketbook, get off their soapbox, and pull their heads out of their asses. They couldn’t convince anyone then, and they sure wont convince anyone now.

[...] Dass Videospiele die Wurzel allen Übels sind, ist ja bekannt. Deshalb überrascht eine neue Studie, die behauptet, Videospiele machen aggressiv, keine wirkliche Überraschung. Allerdings schließt diese Studie daraus, es handele sich um eine Gefahr für die Volksgesundheit (Public Health), da Videospiele extrem deutlich (statistisdch hochsignifikant) zu gewaltbereitem verhalten führen. Wenn man sich jetzt anschaut, dass laut dieser Studie 83% aller Kinder Zugang zu gewalttätigen Medien haben kann die Signifikanz aber nicht so hoch sein wie behauptet, denn dann wäre in Amerika bereits die Zivilisation zusammengebrochen. Interessanter ist da schon, dass Videospiele jetzt auch für Analphabetismus verantwortlich sein sollen. Zumindest laut der britischen Tageszeitung The Sun, das dortige Gegenstück zur Bild, die erst am Tag zuvor mit nackten Mädels als Werbung für das Videospiel Need for Speed Pro Street Auflage gemacht Aufmerksamkeit erregt hat. Tja, gestern so, heute so. Die Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung empfiehlt unterdessen Rollenspiele (explizit genannt wird Pokémon) fürs Lesen lernen. [...]
 
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