Video games have always been part of teenagers’ lives. Most boys than girls consider playing video games fun and worthwhile. Action games are the most popular genres, and first-person shooter games like Far Cry 4, CSGO, Call of Duty, Doom, and Grand Theft Auto dominate the scene.
But a common theme with these games is that they are violent. The scope of options available for players in such games includes maiming, killing, and dismembering images of things that resemble human beings.
The violence in video games has been a concern for the last 15 years. Many people worry that it is making teenagers act violently both while playing and in real life. But is there scientific proof showing the relationship between teenager aggression and violent video games?
Relationship between violent video games and teenager aggression
For many years, psychologists have tried to link the two together. That led to the creation of the General Aggression Model (GAM) that suggests violent video games make up a preceding variable of aggressive behavior.
It also suggests that higher exposure to violent games may directly lead to an increase in teenager aggression. That seems logical because playing a violent game may have a lasting effect on a player’s brain. The effects on the brain may affect how a person behaves in the real world.
Although the GAM explains the effects of violent video games on teenager aggression, many studies have a different point of view. Some studies suggest that violent video games do not have a significant influence on teen aggression. Instead, it is the publication bias that may have implications in how violent video games cause adolescent aggression.
Recent research conducted by the University of Oxford showed that there is no evidence to suggest violent video games make teenagers antisocial and aggressive.
No link between violent video games and teenage aggression
Before coming to that conclusion, the researchers recruited over 1,000 teenagers and allowed their parents and guardians to take part in answering some questions. Some of the questions asked had to do with their feelings, the types of games they played, and how much time they spent playing the games.
The researchers then coded the violent contents of the games using US and EU ratings. Based on those two ratings, about two-thirds of the games the teenagers played were considered violent.
In trying to find a direct relationship between playing violent video games and teenage aggression, the study found no link for either. Although the study is one of the most formulated and clearly defined to date, it raises a question on whether publication bias existed in previous scientific studies on the same issue. That is because the conflicting findings have always confused everybody, including parents, teenagers, and scientists altogether.
But while there may be no link between playing video games and teenage aggression, it does not mean that specific situations and mechanics in gaming do not elicit angry reactions or feelings in players. Trash-talking, trolling, and competitiveness in the gaming community are common. It is easy to classify them as antisocial behavior.
Research has always tried to link violent video games and teenage aggression for the last 15 years. While some studies have found a direct relationship, others have found no link. In role-playing games, players get angry after losing. But the anger may be as a result of the competitive nature of the games.