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New study finds no link between violent games and aggressive kids

New study finds no link between violent games and aggressive kids

A brand new report from the Oxford Internet Institutehasn't found a relationship between aggressive teenagers and how much they play violent games.

The University of Oxford organisation's study said that there is "no cause for concern", following a mass perception that video games encourage violent or aggressive behaviour.

This research is said - admittedly by the organisation that did it - to be the most definitive to date - used information from parents or guardians to gauge aggression. Prior studies featured self-reported data from the teenagers themselves.

"The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time," lead researcher Professor Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute said.

"Despite interest in the topic by parents and policy-makers, the research has not demonstrated that there is cause for concern."

Przybylski admits that this isn't to say that games don't encourage aggression entirely, but that it manifests at what is likely defined as antisocial behaviour.

"Anecdotally, you do see things such as trash-talking, competitiveness and trolling in gaming communities that could qualify as antisocial behaviour," he said.

"This would be an interesting avenue for further research.

"Researchers should use the registered study approach to investigate other media effects phenomena. There are a lot of ideas out there like ‘social media drives depression’ and ‘technology addiction that lowers quality of life’ that simply have no supporting evidence. These topics and others that drive technological anxieties should be studied more rigorously – society needs solid evidence in order to make appropriate policy decisions."

Furthermore, Cardiff University's Dr Netta Weinstein, the research's co-author, says previous examinations have been tainted by biases in those conducting the surveys. One way that this research gets around that is by preregistering the hypothesis, methods and analysis before the survey began.

'Our findings suggest that researcher biases might have influenced previous studies on this topic, and have distorted our understanding of the effects of video games,' she said.

The full report can be read here


PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site PCGamesInsider.biz. In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for GamesIndustry.biz, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.

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