Iowa State Researchers Find Link Between Juvenile Offenders and Playing Violent Video Games

A new study by Iowa State researchers claims that (wait for it) there is a "strong connection" between playing violent video games and youth violence and delinquency. Backed by the usual suspects at the university that continues to publish studies saying that video games are basically responsible for everything wrong with children today, this particular study was conducted by Matt DeLisi, a professor of sociology at the university. He claims that his research shows a strong connection even when taking into consideration a "history of violence and psychopathic traits among juvenile offenders. "

The study published in the April issue of Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice looked at video game exposure levels for 227 juvenile offenders in Pennsylvania (why Pennsylvania we do not understand, what's wrong with children in Iowa?). Those 227 offenders used in the study had committed an average of "nearly nine serious acts of violence, such as gang fighting, hitting a parent or attacking another person in the prior year."

Researchers say that their analysis of the data shows that "the frequency of play and affinity for violent games were strongly associated with delinquent and violent behavior."

Craig Anderson, (a familiar name here on GamePolitics when it comes to anti-game research) said violent video game exposure is not the sole cause of violence but it is a risk factor for children.

"Can we say from this study that Adam Lanza, or any of the others, went off and killed people because of media violence? You can’t take the stand of the NRA that it’s strictly video games and not guns," Anderson said. "You also can’t take the stand of the entertainment industry that it has nothing to do with media violence that it’s all about guns and not about media violence. They’re both wrong and they’re both right, both are causal risk factors."

Douglas Gentile (another familiar name from Iowa State) said that while the results weren't unexpected, he was surprised by them.

"I didn’t expect to see much of an effect when we got to serious delinquent and criminal level aggression because youth who commit that level of aggression have a lot of things going wrong for them. They often have a lot of risk factors and very few protective factors in their lives," Gentile said.

The study's lead author, Matt DeLisi, says that this research makes dismissing the link between violent video games and real-world violence harder:

"When critics say, ‘Well, it’s probably not video games, it’s probably how antisocial they are,’ we can address that directly because we controlled for a lot of things that we know matter," DeLisi said. "Even if you account for the child’s sex, age, race, the age they were first referred to juvenile court – which is a very powerful effect – and a bunch of other media effects, like screen time and exposure. Even with all of that, the video game measure still mattered."

Researchers also point out that juvenile offenders have several risk factors that influence their behavior and that the next step is to build on this research to determine what combination of factors is the most volatile.

"When studying serious aggression, looking at multiple risk factors matters more than looking at any one," Gentile said. "The cutting edge of research is trying to understand in what combination do the individual risk factors start influencing each other in ways to either enhance or mitigate the odds of aggression?"

Finally researchers say that parents need to be "truthful and honest" about who their children are when it comes to their "psychiatric functioning." What does this mean for parents?

"If you have a kid who is antisocial, who is a little bit vulnerable to influence, giving them something that allows them to escape into themselves for a long period of time isn’t a healthy thing," says DeLisi.

Source: Iowa State


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  1. 0
    Lisa Pham says:

    Yeah, when they do studies on this I'd like to see more research variables like…

    How many kids/people play age inappropriate video games that turn out violent?
    How many kids/people that don't play age inappropriate video games that turn out violent?
    How many kids/people that don't play video games at all that turn out violent?
    How many kids/people watch age inappropriate movies that turn out violent?
    How many kids/people don't watch age inappropriate movies that turn out violent?

    Then from that, I'd like to see how many of those have a mental illness that causes them to have violent tendencies, or who just simply have violent tendencies, or even homes where the parents/caregivers simply don't give a sh1t what they do, play or watch.

    You can't just focus on 1 group and expect to get a correct/true answer.

    As I meantioned earlier… there are many factors that play into violence, like, it also depends on the parents/caregiver teaching Right from Wrong, and teaching good Morals. Kids can't learn that from playing games or watching movies/television. It's a parents/caregivers job to do that, not the gaming/movie industries job..

    If they did it right, they would be VERY surprised at how wrong they've been all this time by trying to blame video gaming. Then hopefully they will look into fixing the real problems/issues.

  2. 0
    DorthLous says:

    Oh FFS, did they ever learn about the Texas Sharpshooter's Fallacy? You don't pick your subjects after the fact, you put an hypothesis out first, then pick subject matching it and wait to see a strong correlation. Then you eliminate as many variables as you can and the stronger the correlation, the likelier you have a causation (if such a thing exists, since all proofs are based on this and blahblahblah.)

  3. 0
    Kajex says:

    Typically people who set out to uncover a truth that solidifies what they already believe will find exactly the information they set out to find.  Just look at the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design debate.

    That's not really a good analogy, because ID proponents generally don't use evidence to support their conclusions- they have to construct a false dichotomy wherein any unexplained facet of evolution must therefore be a fatal flaw, and that therefore ID must (somehow) be correct. Anytime they -do- use evidence, it's either not a complete representation of evidence, or a deliberate misrepresentation of it.

  4. 0
    Imautobot says:

    I'm curious how it would play in the media if this guy had violent kids and because of his research he'd never let them be exposed to video games.  

    Typically people who set out to uncover a truth that solidifies what they already believe will find exactly the information they set out to find.  Just look at the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design debate.  

    Can their really be unbiased research?  I mean, if I conducted a study on gaming, I am certain that my results would skew in favor of the industry regardless of whether or not I sought that result intentionally.  People see what they want to see.

  5. 0
    Davvolun says:

    So, just to be completely clear, from the full text of the article:

    "The data (N = 227) are derived from a nonprobability sample of adolescent youth in two (one male only and one female only) private nonprofit long-term residential placement facilities for juvenile offenders in Western Pennsylvania"

    So they deliberately chose already-known aggressive adolescents and pulled the results, with absolutely no comparison to the public at large. If one person in this study played games an above average amount of time for the study population, there is no indication that they aren't actually playing below average for the entire population. I'm not debunking the article, but the results seem very hyperbolic, considering. So I guess the takeaway is that if you're a parent with a kid who is known to be violent and delinquent, you should be careful to watch what kind of video games they play???

  6. 0
    NyuRena says:

    Violent crime, particularly gun crime, has been falling since the 90s. At the same time video game violence and realism has been growing exponentially.

    Where is the crime wave brought on by this tide of graphic games? You can try any little biased micro study you want, but the country wide statistics will override you every single time.

    Please find some other false drum to beat.

  7. 0
    Lisa Pham says:

    "there is a "strong connection" between playing violent video games and youth violence and delinquency."

    Yes, that would be possible if parents weren't doing their job properly and instead they allow the media to be a babysitter for their kids, instead of teaching them right from wrong, and good morals. Then kids would get their teachings/morals from games/movies, etc…

    Oh, wait… that does happen, and on a regular basis. Wow, it's no wonder we have problems with kids now a days.

    How many kids/youths play (violent) video games in comparison to how many kids/youths are commiting crimes, etc, ? I bet if they could do a REAL numbers comparison, they'd find out it's not as much as they originally thought… Also, has any of them looked at how the movies may also effect the young?

    Seriously, these people need to grow some common sense and fight for age appropriate gaming and correct games/movie ratings… but most of all, for parents to actually take note of what they're kids are doing, playing and watching. If this sh1t can't/won't be controlled/regulated through the home, then kids have no hope.

  8. 0
    Samster says:

    Looks like yet another study that confirms that violent people like violent media. Well, duh. I eagerly await the surely parallel study of non-offending juveniles and their violent video game exposure.

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