With the sudden occurrence of a shooting at a Broward County, Florida high school, a familiar and largely debated idea has reemerged. More times than not, when a young individual is the centre of a crime within’ the gaming community, people will often try to blame the tragedy on violent video games and other forms of media influencing an individual’s actions. Florida lawmaker, Jared Moskowitz has made the connection after yet another unfortunate incident, saying that the criminal in the Broward County case “was prepared to pick off students like it’s a video game.” But, what about every other case? Are video games really encouraging violence?
Video games have been blamed for violent behaviour for nearly as long as the games have been played, but a new study concludes that there may in fact be no link between action-packed games and aggressive thoughts and violent behaviour in players, like many had once thought.
A newly released study has discovered that playing games produces no long-term ill effects, at least among adult gamers.
The new study conducted by the journal Molecular Psychiatry was originally designed to explore the relatively long-term impact of the games and how they impact ones actions, as opposed to the emotions and behaviours they may immediately cause after playing. It featured 98 adults (48 women and 50 men), with an overall average age of 28.
In the study, around one third of the participants were assigned to play a game that was considered “extremely violent”, Grand Theft Auto V for at least 30 minutes per day for the time of two months. Another third of participants played the non-violent game, The Sims 3 for that same length of time, while another third of participants did not play any game at all over the allocated time. Results began to form immediately before and after the two-month time period, and then again two months after the previous results. During the process, all participants of the study filled out a wide-ranging series of questions that were designed to assess not only the level of aggressiveness participants had, but also the level of hostility, moral disengagement, sensation seeking, risk-taking, depression, anxiety, and empathy they may have experienced during the process.
“We did not find relative negative effects in response to violent video game playing,” Kühn and her colleagues stated after the results came to light. “Only three of the 208 statistical tests performed showed a significant interaction that would be in line with this hypothesis.
Kuhn continued to say, “Since at least 10 significant effects would be expected purely by change, we conclude that there were no detrimental effects of violent video game play.”
While the study did demonstrate that gaming doesn’t show any signs of violent behaviour or characteristics in adults, whether gaming does have an impact on adolescent brains and behaviour is still up for debate and will require more research before coming to an official definitive statement. Researchers also have not yet confirmed whether the type of game played by an individual impacted their behaviour, both in adults and adolescents alike.
“This finding stands in contrast to some experimental studies,” wrote a research team led by Simone Kühn of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. “However, (the previously reported) effects of violent video gaming on aggressiveness, if present at all, seem to be rather short-lived, potentially lasting less than 15 minutes.”
“In addition, these short-term effects of video gaming are far from consistent,” the researchers add, “as multiple studies fail to demonstrate or replicate them.”
So while it’s still unclear if playing games is impacting your children and their behaviour or not, it seems we can finally put a rest to at least a small aspect of the debate, assuring that the behaviour of adults isn’t being altered due to a form of entertainment such as gaming.