Violent video game play was linked to increases in physical aggression over time among teenagers, even after adjusting for covariates, according to a meta-analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“A controversy has developed over the relation of violent video game play and aggression,” Anna T. Prescott, PhD, from department of psychological and brain sciences, Dartmouth College, and colleagues wrote. “Whereas the majority of those who conduct research on this topic argue that playing such games increases aggressive behavior, a vocal minority has argued that the relation of game play and real-world aggressive behavior is at best overstated and at worst spurious.”
To better understand the link between video game violence and aggressive behavior, researchers performed a meta-analysis of 24 prospective studies encompassing more than 17,000 participants aged 9 to 19 years.
All studies examined the influence of violent video game play on subsequent overt physical aggression over time, ranging from 3 months to 4 years. Physical aggression incidents were self-reported by children, parents, teachers and peers, according to a press release. For each study, the investigators used standardized regression coefficient to determine the prospective effect of video game violence on later aggression, controlling for baseline aggression.
Meta-analysis results showed that video game violence was associated with aggression using both fixed (beta = 0.113; 95% CI, 0.1-0.13) and random effects models (beta = 0.106; 95% CI, 0.08-0.13). Even after Prescott and colleagues included all available covariates, the size of the effect remained significant for both the fixed (beta = 0.08; 95% CI, 0.07-0.09) and random effects (beta = 0.078; 95% CI, 0.05-0.1) models. There was no evidence of publication bias.
In addition, the results showed that ethnicity was a statistically significant moderator for the fixed-effects models (P < .01), with the largest effect observed among whites, an intermediate effect among Asians, and a nonsignificant effect among Hispanics.
James D. Sargent
"The most notable critic of the violent video game aggression literature conducted studies in primarily Hispanic populations and found no evidence of this association. If all of my studies showed null findings, I too, would be skeptical," co-author James D. Sargent, MD, from the department of pediatrics at Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth College, said in the press release. "I hope our findings prompt skeptics to reevaluate their position, especially since some of our other research indicates that violent video game play may increase deviance with implications for multiple risk behaviors.” – by Savannah Demko
Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.