Health and Medicine Neuroscience

Could Violent Video Games Be Beneficial for Children?

violent video games

In 2011, the US Supreme Court examined the constitutionality of regulating the sale of violent games to minors. The outcome was that research evidence does not support claims of “damage” caused to youths. The debate on whether or not violent video games affect the behavior of kids has been ongoing in the academic community for years. It has also been hotly debated by parents from all over the world.

In the United Kingdom, a study group conducted a survey of 304 children. The researchers looked at parental involvement in youths’ violent video game play and their level of exposure to such games. Unlike other studies of this kind, this one also assessed children’s motives for playing video games. The results of the research includes bullying behaviors, antisocial attitudes and involvement in community activities, such as volunteering in their societies.

Contrary to the opinions of many, results indicate that bullying behavior or antisocial attitudes can’t be linked to violent game use. In a surprise result, the study found an association between increased civic behaviors and violent video game use, although the relationship was correlational in nature and very small. Combined, these results suggest that violent video game use is not related to problem behaviors in young people connected to aggression, or indeed to prosocial / civic behaviors. Violent video game exposure was not reduced by parental involvement. The researchers speculate that this is due to parents becoming comfortable with the content of games once they have played these themselves.

Not surprisingly, girls play violent games less than boys do. Predictors of violent game use among kids who played video games were found to be interest in games as a fun activity, but also as a release from stress. Evidence from other studies indicate that children often turn to action oriented games to improve their mood or reduce stress, and the results obtained from this study confirms those findings.

In the past, perceptions of harm caused with other forms of art, ranging from rock music to comic books have gradually been eradicated. As results from this study suggests that violent video games are no reason for concern, perceptions of harm caused by video games to society may eventually be outdated.

Study has been published in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture by Christopher J. Ferguson and John Colwell.