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Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 8, pp 1439–1451 | Cite as

Aggressive Video Games are Not a Risk Factor for Future Aggression in Youth: A Longitudinal Study

  • Christopher J. FergusonEmail author
  • John C. K. Wang
Empirical Research

Abstract

The issue of whether video games with aggressive or violent content (henceforth aggressive video games) contribute to aggressive behavior in youth remains an issue of significant debate. One issue that has been raised is that some studies may inadvertently inflate effect sizes by use of questionable researcher practices and unstandardized assessments of predictors and outcomes, or lack of proper theory-driven controls. In the current article, a large sample of 3034 youth (72.8% male Mage = 11.2) in Singapore were assessed for links between aggressive game play and seven aggression or prosocial outcomes 2 years later. Theoretically relevant controls for prior aggression, poor impulse control, gender and family involvement were used. Effect sizes were compared to six nonsense outcomes specifically chosen to be theoretically unrelated to aggressive game play. The use of nonsense outcomes allows for a comparison of effect sizes between theoretically relevant and irrelevant outcomes, to help assess whether any statistically significant outcomes may be spurious in large datasets. Preregistration was employed to reduce questionable researcher practices. Results indicate that aggressive video games were unrelated to any of the outcomes using the study criteria for significance. It would take 27 h/day of M-rated game play to produce clinically noticeable changes in aggression. Effect sizes for aggression/prosocial outcomes were little different than for nonsense outcomes. Evidence from this study does not support the conclusion that aggressive video games are a predictor of later aggression or reduced prosocial behavior in youth.

Keywords

Video games Aggression Violence Preregistration 

Notes

Authors' Contributions

C.J.F. performed the data analyses and co-wrote the draft of the manuscript; C.K.J.W. conceived of the study, was co-PI on the original grant, conducted data collection and statistical analyses, and cowrote the draft of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding

This project is supported by the Ministry of Education, Singapore and Media Development Authority (Project #EPI/06AK).

Data Sharing and Declaration

Data are available from the second author upon reasonable request.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest, real or imagined, to declare.

Ethical Approval

All procedures described within were approved by local IRB.

Informed Consent

Youth and their parents were provided with informed consent about the survey and its basic nature as part of the panel recruitment.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyStetson UniversityDeLandUSA
  2. 2.Nanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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