Adolescents who playmay become increasingly aggressive over time, a new study of Japanese and U.S. teens suggests.
Researchers found that among three groups of 9- to 18-year-olds followed over several months, those who regularly played violent video games were more likely to get into more and more physical fights over time. The study is among the first to chart changes in gamers’ aggressive behavior over time, lending weight to evidence that violent video games can encourage violence in some kids. And it’s the first to show that the effects are seen across cultures, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.
“Basically what we found was that in all three samples, a lot ofplay early in a school year leads to higher levels of aggression during the school year, as measured later in the school year — even after you control for how aggressive the kids were at the beginning of the year,” lead researcher Dr. Craig A. Anderson, of Iowa State University in Ames, explained.
An argument has been made that video games cannot be directly contributing to aggression because violence rates are low in Japan where video games are highly popular, Anderson said in a written statement.
“By gathering data from Japan,” he said, “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.
The findings are based on two separate groups of teenagers from Japan — 1,231 teens in all — and 364 9- to 12-year-olds from the U.S. At the outset, participants estimated how often they played violent video games, then their own aggressive behavior was followed for up to six months afterward.
The Japanese teens reported on their own violent behavior using questionnaires, while teachers’ and peers’ reports were used to estimate the U.S. group’s aggressive behavior.