A new report links violent video games to aggressive tendencies in children in both the United States and Japan.
According to the Washington Post, the report published in the journal Pediatrics examines research conducted by Dr. Craig Anderson (left) of Iowa State University as well as work by a pair of Japanese researchers. All three studies are of the longitudinal variety. From the WaPo:
Anderson said the collaboration with Japanese researchers was particularly telling because video games are popular there and crime and aggression are less prevalent. Some gamers have cited Japan’s example as evidence that violent games are not harmful.
Yet the studies produced similar findings in both countries, Anderson said. "When you find consistent effects across two very different cultures, you’re looking at a pretty powerful phenomenon," he said. "One can no longer claim this is somehow a uniquely American phenomenon. This is a general phenomenon that occurs across cultures…"
"We now have conclusive evidence that playing violent video games has harmful effects on children and adolescents," Anderson said.
Anderson also told the WaPo that video games are only one of a number of influences on a child’s behavior:
A healthy, normal, nonviolent child or adolescent who has no other risk factors for high aggression or violence is not going to become a school shooter simply because they play five hours or 10 hours a week of these violent video games… [Extreme forms of violence] almost always occur when there is a convergence of multiple risk factors.
The Des Moines Register has additional comments from Anderson:
The [Japanese] culture is so different, and their overall violence rate is so much lower than in the U.S. The argument has been made – it’s not a very good argument, but it’s been made by the video game industry – that all our research on violent video game effects must be wrong because Japanese kids play a lot of violent video games and Japan has a low violence rate.
By gathering data from Japan, we can test that hypothesis directly and ask, ‘Is it the case that Japanese kids are totally unaffected by playing violent video games?’ And of course, they aren’t. They’re affected pretty much the same way American kids are.
Anderson’s study was previously detailed in his 2007 book Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research and Public Policy.
Full report available here.