Watcha think? Do Violent Video Games Cause Behavioral Problems?

This is a highly politicized topic. From reading the news, it seems to maybe come up in the UK and Australia more often than in the US. So studies are commissioned, and some of them say that, yes, video game violence has a negative impact, and some say that they don't have an impact. But studies like these are easily manipulated.

Here's a study that tries to clear out all the nonsense of previous studies: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: A Meta-analytic Review of Positive and Negative Effects of Violent Video Games (You'll have to Google it if you are interested. I can't get the link to work)

From that study:

Results Results indicated that publication bias was a problem for studies of both aggressive behavior and visuospatial cognition. Once corrected for publication bias, studies of video game violence provided no support for the hypothesis that violent video game playing is associated with higher aggression. However playing violent video games remained related to higher visuospatial cognition (rx = 0.36)
Personally, I'd be more interested in finding out if there is a negative impact from allowing children to play any video games in an online setting with voice or text chat. It's probably the first place a lot of kids run into things like racism.

But, anyway, there is room for debate here, and I'd like to see what others think on the topic. Just from a very small sample, I know that my own kids didn't become aggressive after a childhood filled with violent video games (and I didn't either, for that matter), but I've run into some very aggressive children before who I can imagine might be influenced a little by violent movies, TV or games. Your thoughts?
 
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Nov 4, 2020
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Hi Zed we meet again in yet another posting , my sister was a school teacher and when the school had something called a parents evening they were invited to talk about problems they were having at home with their children.
The most commonly talked about problem was their children sometimes became very violent to everyone in the home if they got beat on a multiplayer game or if the parents refused to let them have something added to a game by means of micro payment.
 
Hi Zed we meet again in yet another posting , my sister was a school teacher and when the school had something called a parents evening they were invited to talk about problems they were having at home with their children.
The most commonly talked about problem was their children sometimes became very violent to everyone in the home if they got beat on a multiplayer game or if the parents refused to let them have something added to a game by means of micro payment.
Yeah, I think multiplayer games and singleplayer games are completely different for this. I didn't let my kids play any mulitplayer games when they were little except for Wizard101, which didn't have things like voice chat and didn't really have PvP. It does, however, have very aggressive monetization, but I just told them 'no' and that was the end of it. My children were not going to become violent in my household. That's a parenting problem.
 
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I've run into some very aggressive children before who I can imagine might be influenced a little by violent movies, TV or games
They existed before video gaming. I grew up in an environment of no video, very limited TV and movies—with no appreciable violence in them.

There were still aggressive kids around, and lovely kids, and the big 'normal' bunch in the middle. The baddies were definitely influenced by other baddies, either hanging in a pack or joining in when there was some aggro going on.

Many people are scared of change, and waiting to hang bad apples off whatever the new thing is. Colif summarized it…
Then it will be something else is a bad influence on people
…and it will likely continue until Humans 2.0 evolve :)
 
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They existed before video gaming. I grew up in an environment of no video, very limited TV and movies—with no appreciable violence in them.

There were still aggressive kids around.
I meant that I could see it having a small impact on kids who were already aggressive, not that it turned non-aggressive kids aggressive.

But as an example, you can play aggressively with a toddler and get them "wound up". The attitude of the child changes based on how you play with them. Play something quiet, like a game of Candy Land, and they tend to stay calm. But if you play rough with them (fake wrestle them on the floor, for instance), they become little wildings for awhile (I used to do this to my sister-in-law's kids haha).

To be clear, I don't think video game violence correlates with real world violence.
 
This is - at least in part - an issue of not understanding *the variables in question actually. Eventually I'll have to do a proper review of the literature because I'm not well versed in it. For the moment I don't have great insight on this topic but I am a researcher in clinical psychology so I have access to the tools necessary to do the research.

Back to my initial point, these studies were always saying that viewing violence is associated with higher aggression. Aggression and violence, while related, are absolutely not the same thing. So that meta-analysis does not support the assertion that violence and aggression are related but why was the discussion ever surrounding violence in the first place? Researchers were not asserting that watching violence was associated with violence, they were suggesting that watching violence may increase aggression. It was then extrapolated that if it increases aggression, it may increase violence. Yet, the original assertion wasn't even sufficiently verified. Of course, this is almost assuredly the fault of media reporting incorrectly and then speculation ran wild among the public. This is not the fault of researchers trying to earnestly investigate a potential public health concern.
 
Well, I think it is, partially, as you have each research report supporting the desired conclusion of the person who paid for the research.
Perhaps (again I'm not an expert on this topic). Maybe I'm missing something but where is the evidence that the reason these studies supported a particular conclusion is because of who paid for the research?

It is important to note that it is very common for a given literature to have conflicting findings. I don't know if it is proper to say that the conflicts in the literature are due to funding source. The meta-analysis notes that there was publication bias but this is actually a technical term that denotes that positive findings are more likely to be published than negative findings, and this is true for literally all research regardless of topic (I'll leave a citation below if anyone is interested in a solid article related to publication bias)

Joober, R., Schmitz, N., Annable, L., & Boksa, P. (2012). Publication bias: what are the challenges and can they be overcome?. Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN, 37(3), 149.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Every generation has something it blames something else on. Since we never learn from our history it will always happen.
Yep, but that doesn't matter. All this shows is that people mouthing off about things they don't understand should be ignored. You're trusting them to be wrong!

I really don't know where to go beyond the meta study, though. People are insanely complex, as is the world they live in. Maybe certain subgroups have issues with them that the population at large doesn't have? Or maybe not. Or maybe they did 20 years ago but no longer do. {shrug}
 
Perhaps (again I'm not an expert on this topic). Maybe I'm missing something but where is the evidence that the reason these studies supported a particular conclusion is because of who paid for the research?
I don't feel like doing the work your question requires, so I'll withdraw the statement, but it's common knowledge that the very few studies that show a correlation between video games and violence were paid for by political groups opposed to video game violence. There was a big hubbub a couple of years ago because two of those studies were conducted by the same guy who is clearly influenced by the politicians who line his pockets. At the same time, most, if not all, of the studies that showed there was no correlation were paid for by a European coalition of game publishers (can't remember the name).

So is it a coincidence that each study mirrored the thoughts of the people who paid for the study? Seems unlikely.

I was more up on this info a year or so ago when the latest controversy was raging. I've forgotten the fine details at this point. If I have more time later, I might look for some of the articles I had read.
 
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I do not believe violent video games cause behavioral problems. I believe they can magnify problems that are already there, but they do not cause them. I believe there are a lot of other factors that cause the behavioral problems. I've seen a lot of good kids play violent games and not be influenced negatively by them in real life. Then I've seen other kids that already have problems end up getting triggered by violent games, as well as a lot of other things that trigger them.

In my opinion, the way kids are raised, trained, disciplined, and loved (or not loved) by their parents contribute a lot more than games do.
 
Fwiw the three articles I have in my notes:



 
My children were not going to become violent in my household. That's a parenting problem.
I suspect any correlation between a child playing violent video games and the child's aggressiveness lies in a great part with the parenting style. Parents that let their children play games that they're too young for are on average probably also spending less time disciplining their children.

Play something quiet, like a game of Candy Land, and they tend to stay calm.
Let children play Candy Land with each other and all bets are off however. Children can get each other wound up about anything.
 
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Nov 27, 2020
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To be clear, I don't think video game violence correlates with real world violence.
I do not believe violent video games cause behavioral problems. I believe they can magnify problems that are already there, but they do not cause them. I believe there are a lot of other factors that cause the behavioral problems. I've seen a lot of good kids play violent games and not be influenced negatively by them in real life. Then I've seen other kids that already have problems end up getting triggered by violent games, as well as a lot of other things that trigger them.

In my opinion, the way kids are raised, trained, disciplined, and loved (or not loved) by their parents contribute a lot more than games do.
I suspect any correlation between a child playing violent video games and the child's aggressiveness lies in a great part with the parenting style. Parents that let their children play games that they're too young for are on average probably also spending less time disciplining their children.
This, this & this (or that, that, & that) pretty much sum up how I feel about how violence in video games can influence a child's aggressive behavior.

Genetic makeup, parental guidance, habitat & environmental influences all combine to how a child develops (I believe anyway). I've never been a father or a parent, so I have no personal experience, but I don't see how a single media source (whether it be video games, music, movies, or books) can alter a child's development to the point of aggression or even violence. Too many variables are involved to point the finger at any one source.

But don't politicians just love to do that, especially here in the US. Give one of those bloated-airbag politicians a chance to finger point at video games as a source for youth violence and they'll grandstand, burping out their "supposed" solutions, or how they'll introduce legislation to stop the corruption of our children. Remember the hubris that the "Hot Coffee" mod for GTA San Andreas set off Hillary Clinton years ago?

I'm getting a bit preachy here, so I'll stop. I think @Colif post said it really well:
Its an old argument, it is a political football, it won't end until entire population grew up playing games. Then it will be something else is a bad influence on people.

Every generation has something it blames something else on. Since we never learn from our history it will always happen.
Okay, I said I would stop, but I just have one more thing to add, and it goes beyond just video games. I can't imagine the stress involved in trying to raise children in todays world. A world connected by the internet and the metaverse, Tik-Tok, chat groups, ect., let alone online games. How can you protect your children, and still allow them the freedom and trust to develop? I wouldn't have the internal strength, but I have a great deal of respect for all of you here that have children. Okay, I'm done now.
 
Okay, I said I would stop, but I just have one more thing to add, and it goes beyond just video games. I can't imagine the stress involved in trying to raise children in todays world. A world connected by the internet and the metaverse, Tik-Tok, chat groups, ect., let alone online games. How can you protect your children, and still allow them the freedom and trust to develop? I wouldn't have the internal strength, but I have a great deal of respect for all of you here that have children. Okay, I'm done now.
I have two sons, 18 and 12 years old. I think when you actually have your own children, you're given a special grace to deal with things that you don't have before that. Between that and the love connection with flesh and blood that you helped create, you can handle much more than you think you can before you have kids. You can't really understand it until you experience it.
 
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COLGeek

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Jun 7, 2021
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When I was in high school I started playing D&D (after reading The Hobbit and LOTR, of course). That was once blamed for "stuff".

When my daughter (now 31) was a kid, Harry Potter books were shunned by many due to witchcraft.

Games are not a substitute for parenting and actually raising well adjusted children. Although many kids spend more time with screens rather than people.

Video games don't cause behavioral problems, but like anything else they can be abused and become a dependency to fill other things lacking in a person.
 
Sep 21, 2020
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Hi Zed we meet again in yet another posting , my sister was a school teacher and when the school had something called a parents evening they were invited to talk about problems they were having at home with their children.
The most commonly talked about problem was their children sometimes became very violent to everyone in the home if they got beat on a multiplayer game or if the parents refused to let them have something added to a game by means of micro payment.


Spoiled children throwing a temper-tantrum has Zero to do with games. If a kid has actual mental breaks then anything can trigger them and they should be seeking help or trying to figure out triggers and removing said triggers. Some kids go wild if you don't let um have a piece of candy, is that the candies fault? I've seen kids kicking and screaming in a store because they could not have a toy or a bag of chips. Triggers can be anything, but video games is so easy of a target. Some kids have been known to toss checker boards across the room when they loose It's the classic blame the media verse the actual cause.

there have been tons of studies done on this and there has not been a single credible one that can link violence to vid games in fact there are some that show video games can lower viloence because it's a relaxing hobby. there is an intersting shock study and video games, I dunno the link and forget the name but it was pretty interesting from a clinical point of view. Just for some perspective, Comics were thought to cause violent outbreaks and deviant behavoir (back in the 50's i think) In fact that is part of the reason why there is the whole comic seal of approval the seal is kind of outdated today, but for a time they wouldn't print a comic with out it. It was to say this is wholesome entertainment.

Blame comics, blame video games.. heck blame TV, books and movies but Violent outbreak when playing a video game is a clear sign they can't handle it and there are far deeper issues going on. Perhaps enroll them in sports or other group activities where they can learn how to deal with loss and failure and figure out what is causing it.

and just get um off line. I will never understand the idea of partenting by giving a 4 year old a phone and internet access.. There brains are not developed and can't handle the load, that is pretty clear from a clinical point of view these days.
 
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When I was in high school I started playing D&D (after reading The Hobbit and LOTR, of course). That was once blamed for "stuff".

When my daughter (now 31) was a kid, Harry Potter books were shunned by many due to witchcraft.

Games are not a substitute for parenting and actually raising well adjusted children. Although many kids spend more time with screens rather than people.

Video games don't cause behavioral problems, but like anything else they can be abused and become a dependency to fill other things lacking in a person.
The whole agenda against D&D had its roots in the 1982 movie, Mazes and Monsters. It was about college kids who played a similar game, and one of them went insane and believed he was really living in that world. It was a fictional movie, and because of that, people thought that kind of thing regularly happened. In reality, there were no documented cases of that type of thing actually ever happening, but it didn't stop people from thinking it because of the movie.
 
Sep 21, 2020
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The whole agenda against D&D had its roots in the 1982 movie, Mazes and Monsters. It was about college kids who played a similar game, and one of them went insane and believed he was really living in that world. It was a fictional movie, and because of that, people thought that kind of thing regularly happened. In reality, there were no documented cases of that type of thing actually ever happening, but it didn't stop people from thinking it because of the movie.

It actually goes back even before that. In the 70's there were many religious groups against it because they thought they were demon worshipers. Those satanists in their painted black rooms with light candles rolling dice left them open to demon possession.

That movie just played off that trope. If anyone cares tom hanks actually played in it! I watched the movie a few years back though i think i saw it when i was a young can't really recall. worth the watch if you like older B type movies.

I learned to play dnd in 1980 and there were people talking about that "evil" dnd game though me and my friends didn't care. It made for some awesome sleep over parties.. "Tomb of horrors"was a great weekend!
 
It actually goes back even before that. In the 70's there were many religious groups against it because they thought they were demon worshipers. Those satanists in their painted black rooms with light candles rolling dice left them open to demon possession.
...
I had a D&D set, but just couldn't get into it. But I was starting to get into that type of thing on the C64 back then, only with graphics. That held my attention more.

But to be fair about the religious thing, it was a little disturbing. Some of the things that were in D&D were pretty much straight out of the Satanic Bible.
 

Frindis

Moderator
I played Doom as a teenager and I turned out tooooootally fine. Muahahaahhahahh! On a more serious note:

Video games do not explicitly cause behavior problems but can amplify existing problems. If a kid has anger issues because of for example bad parenting, It probably won't help if he plays Mortal Kombat every day. I remember back in the day when the media blamed the Columbine Massacre on violent video games. Anders Brevik here in Norway people talked about he got violent because he played World of Warcraft. It's quite silly when you think of it, but that is how media and kitchen sink psychologists roll, not to mention some politicians are just dumb as rocks.
 

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