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Violent Video Games Don’t Increase Hostility in Teens, but They Do Stress Girls Out


The impact of violent video games (VVGs) on youth remains unclear given inconsistent results in past literature. Most previous experimental studies have been done with college students, not youth. The current study examined the impact of VVGs in an experimental study of teens (12–18). Participants were randomized to play either a violent or non-violent video game. Teens also reported their levels of stress and hostility both before and after video game play. Hostility levels neither decreased nor increased following violent game play, and Bayesian analyzes confirmed that results are supportive of the null hypothesis. By contrast, VVG exposure increased stress, but only for girls. The impact of VVGs on teen hostility is minimal. However, players unfamiliar with such games may find them unpleasant. These results are put into the context of Uses and Gratifications Theory with suggestions for how medical professionals should address the issue of VVG play with concerned parents.

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All authors received no grants, honorarium or other funding to contribute to this report.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare and are solely responsible for the study design, analysis and decision to submit for publication.

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Correspondence to Christopher J. Ferguson.

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Ferguson, C.J., Trigani, B., Pilato, S. et al. Violent Video Games Don’t Increase Hostility in Teens, but They Do Stress Girls Out. Psychiatr Q 87, 49–56 (2016).

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  • Video games
  • Violence
  • Adolescents
  • Stress