Anyone else see the irony in the fact that violence and video games prompts so much anger? This ‘debate’ (I hesitate to call it a debate because that implies civility, and we don’t really seem to have that here.) has been raging for years, and although it looked like it had settled down for a while, the recent proclamation by the APA has revved things up all over again.
Back in August the American Psychological Association (APA) released a new policy statement on video games in which they acknowledged video game violence can’t be linked to violent crimes, but asserted that such games provoke milder acts of aggression.
A recently published new meta-analysis once again indicates that there is no discernible causal relationship between playing violent games and being violent. Results indicate little evidence to suggest that playing video games, including violent games, influences negative outcomes in children including aggression, prosocial behavior, depression, ADHD and academics.
There was also evidence that problematic practices in some research studies are inflating effect sizes. These including publication bias but also citation bias…researchers who cite only studies that support their personal views find results with higher effect sizes, suggesting that researcher expectancy effects are at play.
The study is in Perspectives on Psychological Science (with commentaries and reply from other scholars) and can be found at: http://pps.sagepub.com/content/10/5/646.full.pdf+html
Ferguson, C. J. (2015). Do Angry Birds Make for Angry Children? A Meta-Analysis of Video Game Influences on Children’s and Adolescents’ Aggression, Mental Health, Prosocial Behavior, and Academic Performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(5), 646-666. doi: 10.1177/1745691615592234.
The issue of whether video games—violent or nonviolent—“harm” children and adolescents continues to be hotly contested in the scientific community, among politicians, and in the general public. To date, researchers have focused on college student samples in most studies on video games, often with poorly standardized outcome measures. To answer questions about harm to minors, these studies are arguably not very illuminating. In the current analysis, I sought to address this gap by focusing on studies of video game influences on child and adolescent samples. The effects of overall video game use and exposure to violent video games specifically were considered, although this was not an analysis of pathological game use. Overall, results from 101 studies suggest that video game influences on increased aggression (r = .06), reduced prosocial behavior (r = .04), reduced academic performance (r = ?.01), depressive symptoms (r = .04), and attention deficit symptoms (r = .03) are minimal. Issues related to researchers’ degrees of freedom and citation bias also continue to be common problems for the field. Publication bias remains a problem for studies of aggression. Recommendations are given on how research may be improved and how the psychological community should address video games from a public health perspective.
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