The Impact of Degree of Exposure to Violent Video Games, Family Background, and Other Factors on Youth Violence
- 17k Downloads
Despite decades of study, no scholarly consensus has emerged regarding whether violent video games contribute to youth violence. Some skeptics contend that small correlations between violent game play and violence-related outcomes may be due to other factors, which include a wide range of possible effects from gender, mental health, and social influences. The current study examines this issue with a large and diverse (49 % white, 21 % black, 18 % Hispanic, and 12 % other or mixed race/ethnicity; 51 % female) sample of youth in eighth (n = 5133) and eleventh grade (n = 3886). Models examining video game play and violence-related outcomes without any controls tended to return small, but statistically significant relationships between violent games and violence-related outcomes. However, once other predictors were included in the models and once propensity scores were used to control for an underlying propensity for choosing or being allowed to play violent video games, these relationships vanished, became inverse, or were reduced to trivial effect sizes. These results offer further support to the conclusion that video game violence is not a meaningful predictor of youth violence and, instead, support the conclusion that family and social variables are more influential factors.
KeywordsVideo games Violence Aggression Propensity scores Adolescence
We wish to thank the anonymous peer reviewers for their helpful insights and contributions to this work.
WD conceived of the study, obtained the data, participated in the design, conducted some statistical analyses, and drafted some sections of the manuscript; CF participated in the design, conducted some statistical analyses, and drafted some sections of the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
This study received no grants or funding. The data used in this research were collected by the University of Delaware Center for Drug and Health Studies as part of a project supported by the Delaware Health Fund and by the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, DE Health and Social Services.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The data used in this study were collected under a protocol approved by the University of Delaware Institutional Review Board.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, N., Swing, E. L., Bushman, B. J., Sakamoto, A., & Saleem, M. (2010). Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in Eastern and Western countries: a meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 151–173. doi: 10.1037/a0018251.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- CBS News. (2005). Senator Clinton on Violent Games. CBS News. Retrieved from: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/senator-clinton-on-violent-games/.
- Clinton, H. (2005). Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions. Retrieved from: https://votesmart.org/public-statement/143073/statements-on-introduced-bills-and-joint-resolutions.
- CNN. (1997). Senator decries violent video games. CNN. Retrieved from: http://edition.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1997/11/25/email/videos/.
- Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. (2000). The Impact of Interactive Violence on Children: Hearing Before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, United States Senate. Retrieved from: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-106shrg78656/pdf/CHRG-106shrg78656.pdf.
- Gottfredson, M. R., &Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hirschi, T. (1969). The causes of delinquency. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Lauritsen, J. L., & Laub, J. H. (2007). Understanding the link between victimization and offending: new reflections on an old idea. Crime Prevention Studies, 22, 55.Google Scholar
- Li, J., & Jin, Y. (2014). The effects of violent video games and prosocial video games on cognition, emotion and behavior. Chinese Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 22(6), 985–988.Google Scholar
- O’Keefe, L. (2002). Media exposure feeding children’s violent acts, AAP policy states. AAP News.Google Scholar
- Schwartz, J., & Beaver, K. (2016). Revisiting the association between television viewing in adolescence and contact with the criminal justice system in adulthood. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 31, 2387–2411.Google Scholar
- Sherry J. (2007). Violent video games and aggression: Why can’t we find links? In R. Preiss, B. Gayle, N. Burrell, M. Allen, & J. Bryant, (Eds.), Mass media effects research: advances through meta-analysis (pp. 231-248). Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Surette, R., & Maze, A. (2015). Video game play and copycat crime: an exploratory analysis of an inmate population. Psychology Of Popular Media Culture, doi: 10.1037/ppm0000050.
- Sutherland, E. H., & Cressey, D. R. (1960/2007). A theory of differential association. In R. D. Crutchfield, C. E. Kubrin, G. S. Bridges, & J. G.Weis (Eds.), Crime: readings (3rd edn., pp. 224–225). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. (Original work published 1960).Google Scholar
- Wooldridge, J. M. (2010). Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar