Not Worth the Fuss After All? Cross-sectional and Prospective Data on Violent Video Game Influences on Aggression, Visuospatial Cognition and Mathematics Ability in a Sample of Youth

Abstract

The United States Supreme Court’s recent decision relating to violent video games revealed divisions within the scientific community about the potential for negative effects of such games as well as the need for more, higher quality research. Scholars also have debated the potential for violent games to have positive effects such as on visuospatial cognition or math ability. The current study sought to extend previous literature by using well-validated clinical outcome measures for relevant constructs, which have generally been lacking in past research. Cross-section data on aggression, visuospatial cognition, and math achievement were available for a sample of 333 (51.7 % female) mostly Hispanic youth (mean age = 12.76). Prospective 1-year data on aggression and school GPA were available for 143 (46.2 % female) of those youth. Results from both sets of analysis revealed that exposure to violent game had neither short-term nor long-term predictive influences on either positive or negative outcomes. A developmental analysis of the cross-sectional data revealed that results did not differ across age categories of older children, preadolescents or adolescents. Analysis of effect sizes largely ruled out Type II error as a possible explanation for null results. Suggestions for new directions in the field of video game research are proffered.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The local community includes both a high number of federal government workers and migrant workers. Thus, relatively frequent changes in home (and thus telephone) status are more common than in other municipalities.

  2. 2.

    Bouncing beta results occur when two collinear predictors produce spuriously high results in opposing directions. Such nonsensical results are often an indication of multicollinearity.

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Correspondence to Christopher J. Ferguson.

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Ferguson, C.J., Garza, A., Jerabeck, J. et al. Not Worth the Fuss After All? Cross-sectional and Prospective Data on Violent Video Game Influences on Aggression, Visuospatial Cognition and Mathematics Ability in a Sample of Youth. J Youth Adolescence 42, 109–122 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-012-9803-6

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Keywords

  • Video games
  • Aggression
  • Cognition
  • Child development
  • Adolescence