Violent Video Games Linked to Aggressive Behavior
April 24, 2000 -- The one-year anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting has come and gone, reopening old wounds and revisiting unanswered questions. The unthinkable remains unexplainable: What could have caused two seemingly average kids to go on such a rampage?
Some of the blame has fallen on violent video games, which the two Columbine shooters, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, played religiously. But are these games actually part of the problem, or just an easy target?
Two new studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology add some scientific weight to the claim that violent video games can increase aggression.
"These two studies, plus other research on video game violence ? all point in the same direction," researcher Craig A. Anderson, PhD, from Iowa State University, tells WebMD. "It's a direction that's not unexpected, because the effects of playing violent video games look to be very similar to the effects of lots of exposure to violent TV. Basically, kids who play a lot of violent video games are at risk for becoming more violent people."
Still, other researchers say much more study is needed before one can say definitively that violent video games can lead to aggression. And representatives of the video-game industry say findings of these studies don't always correlate to real life.
Anderson collaborated with Karen E. Dill, PhD, from Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, N.C., on the two recent studies. He was with the University of Missouri-Columbia at the time.
The first study surveyed more than 200 college students about their traits of aggressiveness and any delinquent behavior in the near past, in relation to the kinds of video games they played and how often they played them.
Ultimately, those who had played more violent video games as teenagers reported engaging in more aggressive behavior. Men exhibited more aggression, and men who are more prone to exhibit aggressive behavior may be even more vulnerable to violent video games, the study found.
The researchers also found that the more time a student had spent playing video games in the past, the lower his or her college grades were likely to be.