Your boy is spending too much time playing all kind of violent video games, like a shoot'em up titles? Then maybe you should start to worry, because he can become an aggressive adolescent.
Or at least this is one of the findings of an empirical review of the last 20 years of research. According to these report violent video games can increase aggressive behavior in children and adolescents, both in the short- and long-term.
The paper was presented at the 113th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington, DC. The researchers Jessica Nicoll, B.A., and Kevin M. Kieffer, Ph.D., of Saint Leo University said that youth who played violent video games for a short time experienced an increase in aggressive behavior following the video game.
Furthermore, violent video game players "tend to imitate the moves that they just 'acted out' in the game they played," said Dr. Kieffer. For example, children who played violent karate games duplicated this type of behavior while playing with friends. These findings demonstrate
the possible dangers associated with playing this type of video game over and over again.
Both Nicoll and Kieffer say that the recent changes that put age limits and rating systems on games make it more difficult for young children to purchase and play these video games. But, say the psychologists, "future research needs to explore why many children and adolescents prefer to play a violent video game rather than play outside, and why certain personalities are drawn to these types of games."
One study showed participants who played a violent game for less than 10 minutes rate themselves with aggressive traits and aggressive actions shortly after playing. In another study of over 600 8th and 9th graders, the children who spent more time playing violent video games were rated by their teachers as more hostile than other children in the study. The children who played more violent video games had more arguments with authority figures and were more likely to be involved in physical altercations with other students.
The authors also found that boys tend to play video games for longer periods of time than girls. Boys may play more of these types of video games, said Kieffer, because women are portrayed in subordinate roles and the girls may find less incentive to play. But those girls who did play violent video games, according to the review, were more likely to prefer playing with an aggressive toy and were more aggressive when playing.
Finally, children and adolescents who are attracted to the violent content in the games are likely to be more vulnerable to the effects of that exposure, according to the review.
The reaction of gaming industry was a little hush. Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the industry, called the new review "little more than a rehash of old papers repackaged as 'new findings.' "
"In truth," he added, "it is neither new nor comprehensive. It is simply a highly selective review of previous research, much of which has been challenged as either weak, unpersuasive, and flawed by independent sources."
Lowenstein believes the reviewers ignored studies that contradicted their "preconceived views," and called the APA's focus on the paper "predictable given APA's longstanding support of proposals to regulate video games."
The debate about the effects of violent video games has raged since the 1980s and has often been spiked by such envelope-pushing games as "Mortal Kombat," "Doom" and "Grand Theft Auto." This week, Softpedia News wants to know your opinion on the first beta of Windows Vista. Do you think it comes close to what users want or do you think that Microsoft will have problems with its latest operating system? Express your opinion in the Softpedia News Poll.