Violent video games have been a hot-button topic for parents, educators, and members of the pediatric community for years as many express concern over the impact these games may have on kids. And last year’s0 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, has a caused some to ask again, “Do violent video games lead to violent behavior in kids?”
A 2014 study published in PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed journal of the Public of Library Science, concluded that playing violent video games in both online and offline environments did lead to increased aggression in the player when compared to the results of playing neutral games. In this study, participants played either neutral or violent games for a set period of time. According to the American Psychological Association’s August 2015 policy statement, it’s not just that violent games breed more aggressive behavior. Their research on the subject also shows a link between playing these games and “decreased prosocial behavior, empathy, and moral engagement.” In short, scientists are beginning to wonder if children who play such games, particularly for long periods of time, may not develop the right social skills.
While violent video games do seem to have connections to aggressive—and sometimes violent—behavior, experts don’t think all video games are bad for kids. More kids are playing more games for more hours each day, and they have plenty of points of access. Games can be played on console systems, computers, smartphones, and tablets. And while parents do need to be concerned that their child is doing well in other areas, and not engaging in addictive behavior with regard to games, a child playing more video games than their parents did at that age is likely not cause for concern.
Constance Steinkuehler, a professor at UC Irvine and the Higher Education Video Game Alliance president, says that the structure of children’s lives today is very different than it would have been a few decades ago. Many kids live heavily structured lives and can feel stress; video games let them engage in leisure to reduce stress. Plus, there are plenty of nonviolent games available that are fun and provide educational value.
This for sure confirms that violence in games does have a correlation to “IRL violence”.