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Games Science

Study Suggests Violent Video Games May Make Teens Less Violent 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the rovio-cancels-development-on-melancholy-birds dept.
barlevg writes "A new paper is out in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence which shows no positive correlation between playing violent video games and acts of aggression. The study of 377 children with attention deficit and depressive symptoms in fact showed a slight negative correlation between video game-playing and aggressive behavior such as bullying, which the researchers posit is due to the games awarding some measure of catharsis. The full paper is available online (PDF)."
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Study Suggests Violent Video Games May Make Teens Less Violent

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:37PM (#44700835)

    The stats in the study show no significant relationship, not a negative relationship. The regression coefficient happens to be negative, but the coefficient isn't significantly related to the dependent variable (bullying). You should change your headline.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No significant relationship also bolsters the current position that catharsis is bullshit. If you're going to shoot someone in the face, you're going to do it whether you have taken your aggression out on a paper target or not.

      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:02PM (#44701065)

        No significant relationship also bolsters the current position that catharsis is bullshit.

        Catharsis is only one hypothesis for why video games reduce crime. A more plausible one is the "sucking up time" hypothesis. Every hour that kids spend playing games, is one less hour they are out on the street. When "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" was released, there was a noticeable drop in real world crime for several weeks. The most plausible explanation was that the potential criminals were at home playing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by vux984 (928602)

          When "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" was released, there was a noticeable drop in real world crime for several weeks. The most plausible explanation was that the potential criminals were at home playing.

          Followed by several weeks of elevated crime, as the potential criminals finished the game and were now inspired to shoot seagulls, dine and dash, rob hookers, then pimp them, then drive them across town at break neck speeds in stolen cars, and spray painting graffitti, all the while dealing with that annoyin

        • When "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" was released, there was a noticeable drop in real world crime for several weeks.

          A quick google finds no mention of this theory. I'd like to see what you are basing that statement on.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            That's not a drone flying overhead, that's the joke that went so high up you missed the "WHOOSH!" sound

            • > Woooosh!

              Doubt it, the "sucking up time" hypothesis is well known. My issue is with there being such a narrowly defined example of it in action.

        • Training (Score:2, Troll)

          by Roger W Moore (538166)

          The most plausible explanation was that the potential criminals were at home playing.

          I think the word you are looking for is training, not playing. ;-)

        • A more plausible one is the "sucking up time" hypothesis. Every hour that kids spend playing games, is one less hour they are out on the street.

          There is probably some long term studies and or data regarding this hypothesis from the after school and summer recreation programs that various communities have offered over the years. Its not video game related but that seems to be your point.

          • by rahvin112 (446269)

            Idle hands are the devils work.

            This expression has been in existence in one form or another since before Shakespeare.

        • A more plausible one is the "sucking up time" hypothesis. Every hour that kids spend playing games, is one less hour they are out on the street.

          A strange thought ....

          I recently stayed at one of those mega-resort complexes in Hawaii. Not my sort of place but I was there for a wedding and the rest of the family was staying there. During checkin I was surprised when they told me about the PS3 in the room and the movie and video game "rental" boxes near the elevators. There was no rental charge, swipe this card and you get a movie/game, you can't get a second one until you return the first. It was fully automated, insert the first disc and now you a

        • Seriously? Have you never had a four hour Halo/CoD/pick-your-pleasure "OMGWTFBBQPWNED HEADSHOT BITCH TEABAG TEABAG YOUR MAWM SUCKS MY BALLS LOLWUT ORLY YOU STUPID NOOB I JUST KILLED YOU" marathon and THEN tried to go perpetrate real world violence?

          You're just too tired.

    • Good point.

      We wouldn't want the truth to get in the way of a good story though!

    • I can't parse this sentence. The authors badly needed an editor.

      "Finally, with the sample once again of children with clinically elevated attention decit symptoms and with regards to bullying behavior only trait aggression (b = .41) was predictive of bullying behaviors along with the interaction between trait aggression and exposure to violent games did approach signicance (b = -.22) suggesting that highly trait aggressive children who also played violent video games were less likely to engage in bullying b

  • An outlet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WarJolt (990309) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:38PM (#44700843)

    Games are a good outlet for stress and frustration. I'd argue a game is a constructive activity as there are things you can learn from video games.
    Of course they make people less violent.

    • I guarantee you that violent video games are one of the main reasons I didn't snap in my early teen years and kill the people in school that tormented me.
      If it were not for violent video games several people would have died, and I would be in prison right now. Thank you to all the video game writers out there.
    • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:53PM (#44700969) Homepage Journal

      Games are a good outlet for stress and frustration. I'd argue a game is a constructive activity as there are things you can learn from video games.
      Of course they make people less violent.

      ?

      I found many games to increase my stress level to the point I can actually hear red corpuscles whistling through the capillaries in my cranium.

      and once I finished getting them unpackaged, installed and running my stress level went even higher

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Or they take away motivation.
      So Are teens who play video games more likely to get a job, more likely to not get a job even when its a detriment, no change.v

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Or they take away motivation.
        So Are teens who play video games more likely to get a job, more likely to not get a job even when its a detriment, no change.v

        Perhaps leave teens mentally exhausted unable to dream up ways of getting in trouble. Won't last - the amoral behaviour so necessary in playing many violent video games is training these people, establishing thought patterns. Curious how they will rationalize things when they get into their 30's and 40's.

        i need a red sports car for my mid-life crisis -- so I can run people over with it

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They also take male teens off the streets and put them in their parent's living room, they take their money that could be used for drugs, and they assure them that they have a reduced chance of meeting females who they otherwise may fight over. That's like a quadruple win.

    • The first "Depends" is that if parents are supervising, and teaching morals I agree. If nobody is around to teach morals, then I believe that games can have a desensitizing effect on more natural morals.

      After reading what I just wrote, I think it important that I point out that the majority of the responsibility of raising the child is with the parents and not a video game maker. The video games play a role, but are not of course the ultimate issue.

      The second "depends" is that games are not designed for l

      • by lgw (121541)

        Hmm, which leisure-time activity is more constructive for an unsupervised teen: (a) playing violent video games without "s.petry-approved moral instruction" - the horrors, or (b) boosting a car for quick cash for meth, then unprotected sex with the girlfriend.

        People who say that games are violent have no experience with real violence. People who say that games are addictive have no experience with real addiction.

        • by s.petry (762400)

          Hmm, which leisure-time activity is more constructive for an unsupervised teen: (a) playing violent video games without "s.petry-approved moral instruction" - the horrors, or (b) boosting a car for quick cash for meth, then unprotected sex with the girlfriend.

          False analogy. It's not like a person only has those two choices, so picking two extremes is an irrational method of attempting to prove your point.

          People who say that games are violent have no experience with real violence. People who say that games are addictive have no experience with real addiction..

          Yet another fallacy based on a false assumption. You have no idea what my experiences are, and I have no desire to expand on them since they are irrelevant to the points I made. Further you have no idea what anyone else' experiences are, regarding violence, who make similar claims to myself. I will give you a hint however, which is that many of us are milita

          • by lgw (121541)

            Well, clearly any further arguments would commit the inescapable fallacy of "argumentum against s.petry", much as you define morality as "actions approved by s.petry" making your argument against video games a tautology. I certainly can't argue against logic like that.

            • by s.petry (762400)

              Fallacy is not "inescapable". In the post you first responded to, I never claimed the person was "wrong" or "correct". I stated that in my opinion there are too many variables to make a factual claim. Your response was to attack that opinion as well as claim that a piece of science to back that position was wrong simply because. Yes, I defend my opinions just as anyone should.

              To avoid fallacy, provide facts for someone to consider that counters their current belief. Attempt to use sound arguments that

      • If nobody is around to teach morals, then I believe that games can have a desensitizing effect on more natural morals.

        I highly doubt that that happens in more than a minuscule number of cases, if at all.

        • by s.petry (762400)
          In fairness, I never made a claim as to any percentage or marker for this case. I agree it's not high, but to deny it happens ignores how children are being raised in high poverty and crime areas like Detroit.
  • Never agreed... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:40PM (#44700853)

    Never agreed that violent video games make a person more violent. I've been playing FPS since I was a child with my first being Wolfenstein 3D right when it came out. I also listen to heavy metal. For me it's actually relaxing. Nothing I like more after a stressful day than sitting down and shooting someone in the face.

    • Re:Never agreed... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Synerg1y (2169962) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:00PM (#44701043)

      People react differently to different things. This shouldn't come as a surprise. For some people violent video games increase stress, for some they lower it. Some people find driving stressful, others find it relaxing. Applying the video game debate to driving: because some drivers have had road rage and have caused accidents as a result some of which led to fatalities, we should ban driving in favor of catching carts driven by those who want to ban violent video games. Any volunteers? (We'd also be contributing to fixing the obesity plague)

      • Re:Never agreed... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dragon-file (2241656) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:43PM (#44701359)
        This also caries over into music. I've found that when depressed, depressing music actually makes me feel better, which, according to friends and coworkers, is counter intuitive. Apparently they listen to upbeat music when they're down. What's up with that?
        • I do the same thing.
          I think it's a matter of putting your situation into perspective like "yeah things suck but they could be worse" or "hey there's someone out there that feels like I do".

          I've been toying around with making an alarm clock that uses the same idea.
          It cusses you out Full Metal Jacket R Lee Ermey style (hitting the snooze button only intensifies the cursing) instead of the usual chimes.
          This way there is a good possibility your day will only get better!

      • by phorm (591458)

        Indeed. Playing something like BF4 and getting ganked five times a minute by some foul-mouthed little bastard who insists on insulting both one's skills and parentage isn't going to do much for reducing stress levels...

    • I agree. FPS are not my favourite genre, but sometimes I just have to shoot someone in the face, repeatedly.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Never agreed that violent video games make a person more violent. I've been playing FPS since I was a child with my first being Wolfenstein 3D right when it came out. I also listen to heavy metal.

      The bit about heavy metal is hilarious to me. It hearkens back to the PMRC (Al Gore's wife) and Twisted Sister, grilling the guy from the band about the song "Under the Blade". OOOH, SPOOKY right? The song is about having surgery.

      A grieving father sued Ozzie Ozbourne for for his son's suicide because one of the son

  • Amazing! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <.onyxruby. .at. .comcast.net.> on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:48PM (#44700929)

    Who would have thought that giving kids a safe environment to get their aggression out would have beneficial side effects? The said thing is that this study ever had to be conducted in the first place.

    I remember when D&D was blamed for suicides, goths were blamed for school shootings, movies were blamed for just about everything and so on. At some point the idiot brigade needs to quit blaming everyone else and go back to being parents instead of outsourcing the job to the media. /rant off

    • by alvinrod (889928)

      The said thing is that this study ever had to be conducted in the first place.

      I wouldn't call it sad. There's a lot of "common knowledge" that has turned out to be bullshit.

      I think it's a good thing that this study was conducted. It shows that someone was willing to approach the problem from a scientific perspective rather than to either blame or sanctify video games based on an emotional response. This isn't the first study to suggest that video games do not result in violent behavior, but part of science is also replicating results.

  • the researchers were set upon and beaten with an inch of their lives by video game company executives, reviewers, players and given severe noogies and wedgies by Gabe and Tycho.

  • Its called blowing off steam and it can be accomplished mush better by going outside and playing with other kids. Thats how i did it all i see are kids playing video games or watch cartoons which in my day was saturday mornings. But blowing off mental stress killing zombies is fun its just not enough in my book.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Its called blowing off steam and it can be accomplished mush better by going outside and playing with other kids. Thats how i did it all i see are kids playing video games or watch cartoons which in my day was saturday mornings. But blowing off mental stress killing zombies is fun its just not enough in my book.

      You, sir, are a veritable fossil, much as myself - get out on that bike, ski, run around in the woods, get into a boat and paddle like mad, swat at 12,507 mosquitoes at summer camp, catch a few 15 lb carp, go sledding, swipe pumpkins, chase girls, etc. Don't wake up at 40 to find half your hair gone along with most of your life in empty pursuit of points and levels.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        You do realize that today we live under the iron curtain of the 'liberal' oprah-tic soccermom mentality right?

        biking is too dangerous.. same thing for sledding/boating/camping and the mosquitoes carry disease! That's why you see kids on bikes with 4000 protection devices...even when the kid's still on training wheels (even training wheels are lame)

        Haven't you heard? chasing girls is 'sexual harassment.' Boys are rapists in training!! zomg

        and no, this is not a troll. These attitudes are becoming more and m

      • by tftp (111690)

        Don't wake up at 40 to find half your hair gone along with most of your life in empty pursuit of points and levels.

        But what is the difference between virtual life and achievements in a game vs. life and achievements "in real life" (which may well be just as virtual.) Is chasing levels and points somehow worse than chasing money, alcohol and women, and then raising children? Do you even have a scale by which you can measure worth of any of these activities?

        It's easy to say that your neighbor probably d

      • by Stan92057 (737634)
        You swiped pumpkins we swiped chocoholic milk from the milk trucks at nite we called it the milkyway lol. ive got quit a few stores myself...myself
    • by Synerg1y (2169962)

      Yes, exercise reduces stress, this is a proven fact. Kids aren't allowed as much outside today, or want to for that matter due to the internet, and parents fearing pedos. Somewhere I'm sure we can blame the media for this situation and slashdot.

      • by Stan92057 (737634)
        Ive had run ins when i was young with pedo river hermits they were around back then too. just not in the news or as much as today. There is just so much a person can do what i do see as being a huge difference between now and them is far far far more moms were at home then then now.
  • Can we please go more than month without someone posting an article about how there's little to no relationship between gaming and violent behavior?

    Seriously - this was news 8 years ago. Nowadays it's just re-blogger-rent-seeking.

    • Re:TL;DR (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nemyst (1383049) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:37PM (#44701305) Homepage
      If there wasn't any movement towards restricting the distribution and sales of games, if we didn't constantly get games being censored for content deemed too violent or too gross (games targeted at adults no less!), if we didn't see all the blatant misinformation being circulated by the media concerning games and violence, then yeah, it wouldn't be news.

      As is, the point needs to be hammered home as much as possible if we're to keep the medium on an equal footing to all other media.
      • OK, fair enough. I suppose my real annoyance is at all the stupid stuff you just mentioned, and thus should register my distaste accordingly, not take it out on those who defend the medium.

  • by sconeu (64226) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @04:56PM (#44701009) Homepage Journal

    In other news, Jack Thompson's body was found in Florida. Apparently his head had exploded. A copy of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence was found on his desk.

  • by metrix007 (200091) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:14PM (#44701139)

    Is 377 sufficient? What is an adequate sample size? How do you determine what the sample size should be?

    • The sample size needed 960 more players.

    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      Any sample size can be used for a study. You just get less precision in the results when the sample is smaller (ie. a very small sample will basically give you random noise). A proper statistical analysis can give you exactly how precise they are. My statistics are very rusty, but you can see on the tables used throughout the paper that they're using Student's t-test, which seems appropriate given the situation (assuming normal distribution).
    • Ultimately, you want a big sample size to convince yourself that your effect is real in the sample in which you're measuring it and that it generalises to the population of interest. It's very hard to decide what is an adequate sample size. In some studies a sample size of 30 is considered large. In these sorts of survey-type studies, however, a much larger size is called for. 300 or 400 isn't bad but some may have thousands. Cost limits you. To assess if the sample is large enough you really need to look
    • by blueg3 (192743)

      You study statistics.

  • by umafuckit (2980809) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @05:41PM (#44701341)
    They're doing a bunch of regression analyses and summarising their results using tables. Not a graph in sight. I have to trawl through the text to find R values. Impossible to really evaluate their data. If a student produced this stuff I'd fail them.
    • by retchdog (1319261)

      At first, I thought you were a bit out of line, and it would be easy to include graphs which look meaningful but illuminate nothing, and we should give these researchers some credit for avoiding obvious pitfalls. Then I looked closer.

      All they do is mention that one variable looks pretty much normally-distributed, and don't mention anything about outliers, etc. The effect of stress is radically different (having no effect) for the regression for bullying among children with ADD than it is for all others, wit

      • You're right, this is garbage.

        I agree it's easy to include pointless graphs, but when there are no graphs of the primary effects I don't trust the study. In fact, it makes me think they just looked at the textual output of their stats package and never graphed their own data. It's a cliche, but a graph really is worth a thousand words. If they show the data then you have almost everything you need to make up your own mind. If they show only some numbers in a table then you never know what happened. Was a slope value influenced by an out

  • Remember when the feminists went after porn because it encouraged rape? Rarely has any hypothesis been so dangerously wrong, and so thoroughly disproved. And lest you think we have learned our lesson, I nervously call your attention to the subject of kiddie porn.
  • That article must be suppressed! Just think of all the time and money people have spent trying to force laws on the public because video games are the cause of all evil. Nothing must get in the way of their agenda! Burn! Shred, Chew!
  • After the latest Grand Theft Auto came out (I think it was Vice City) I was passenger in my addicted-to-GTA-roommates car and after a close call I remember him saying "I'm not so sure about this 'video games make you violent' thing, but I know my driving sure has gotten more aggressive since GTA came out'.
    Could we correlate unrealistic driving video games with insurance premium increases?
  • We have politicians that have staked their career on this not being the case, who have spent massive amounts of money (so they could line their own pockets with some of it) on speculation which is much more important than those damned scientific studies and the children, who is going to protect these sweet, innocent children. We are now going to have a whole generation of mass murdering, raping, drug addicted, Mortal Kombat killers running our streets. Don't let REAL data tell you otherwise. It's true, b
  • The authors would like to acknowledge the industry of violent video games for funding this research.
  • Next they'll be suggesting that online porn reduces sexual crime rates. See http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/30/smut_freakonomics/ [theregister.co.uk] And that Child Pornography Reduces Child Abuse, see http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2011/06/30/child-pornography-reduces-child-abuse/ [forbes.com]
  • by roeguard (1113267) on Wednesday August 28, 2013 @06:27PM (#44701731)

    Somehow I doubt the contributors to "Journal of Youth and Adolescence" are focused experts in human aggression. I similarly wouldn't put much confidence in any paper they published regarding how well children are able to code complex database applications.

    The US Military has a large body of research they've conducted over the past 60 years in exactly how to cultivate and control aggression in youths, which is why our soldiers are some of the most lethal on the planet. They also have a similarly large body of research on how to inhibit it -- its instructive how relatively few war crimes have been committed by US Soldiers over the past decade in our many myriad wars.

    My layman's summary of their research? Video games are excellent training simulators for violence, but don't actually cause aggression. Aggression is cultivated/controlled through supervised training (or lack thereof). Very similar to Milgram's findings in the 60s.

    Dave Grossman's books do a pretty good job of explaining this research in an relatively accessible way.

  • Maybe people should stop trying to find correlation between video games and violence... Maybe there is just no relation between those twos...
  • Moralistic mindless campaignaholics will get it that what they are campaigning against won't help what they say they are campaigning for. If people understand their instincitive desires surrounding violence, they are better equipped both to live them out and to control and train them out. People need to be encouraged to do the latter, and given good role models. Avoiding stimulating material only makes people more sensitive to it, and more interested in seeing it, and more likely to live o
  • There was a recent case where three SAS trainees tragically lost their lives due to training in hot weather. The banaholics thinking would suggest that training is an evil scourge that causes death and should thus be banned, and that we should stop training our soldiers in cases more training deaths occur. Anybody with half an ounce of sense can see that this would be silly. When it comes to exposure to media and games with strong content, we must take that as part of the challenge in how
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