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Research Shows Violent Video Games are Risk Factor for Aggression

Aug 19, 2015

For years, violence in video games has been suspected to play a role in aggressive behaviors. Recently, an American Psychological Association (APA) task force released a report indicating that exposure to violent video games was a "risk factor" for increased aggression, Press Association reports. The APA report was based on a review of nearly a decade of studies.

In response to these findings, the APA is urging greater parental control over violence in video games. The experts noted, however, that there is not enough evidence to conclusively state that certain video games caused criminal acts. Still, the APA task force on violent media says "The research demonstrates a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behaviour, aggressive cognitions and aggressive affect, and decreases in pro-social behaviour, empathy and sensitivity to aggression." The review involved over 300 violent video game studies published between 2005 and 2013.

The report states that aggressive behavior was an "accumulation of risk factors", rather than stemming from one specific influence. "The research reviewed here demonstrates that violent video game use is one such risk factor." it said, according to Press Association.

The APA is calling for greater parental control over the amount of violence in video games. Earlier this month, the APA's ruling council said the video game rating system should more closely consider violent content at a meeting in Toronto Canada. The council also said that video games should be made for suitable for a player's age and psychological development.

"Scientists have investigated the use of violent video games for more than two decades but to date, there is very limited research addressing whether violent video games cause people to commit acts of criminal violence." said Dr. Mark Appelbaum, who chaired the APA task force. "However, the link between violence in video games and increased aggression in players is one of the most studied and best established in the field...We know that there are numerous risk factors for aggressive behaviour."

Dr. Appelbaum said "While there is some variation among the individual studies, a strong and consistent general pattern has emerged from many years of research that provides confidence in our general conclusions," What lies ahead is for researchers to study how violence in video games affects individuals with other risk factors for aggression.

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