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Health & Parenting

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Violent Video Games Linked to Aggressive Behavior


John Sherry, PhD, an assistant professor of communication at Purdue University in Illinois, agrees. He analyzed the research on video game violence while he was a doctoral student, which then included about 20 studies, and says he found an "equivalent effect to what we get with television." But, he says, the lack of long-term studies and these studies' failure to account for individual differences means there is still no definitive answer.

Sherry that even if violent video games gave Klebold and Harris ideas about carrying out their rampage, they would have probably committed some type of violent act regardless of whether they had ever played these games.

"Think of what it would have taken to do what they did. For most people it's unfathomable, so I don't think video games got them there," Sherry tells WebMD. "So I think some people can play video games and it's a fun pastime ? and some people are going to become more aggressive, so we really need to sort out what types of people have what types of reactions."

Todd Hollenshead, CEO of id Software, the company that made Wolfenstein 3D, calls the idea that violent video games are dangerous "a popular myth." He cites an Australian government report that reviewed research on video games up to 1999 and "failed to find evidence of strong links between play and behavior, or play and self-concept."

Similarly, Doug Lowenstein, president of the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA), says of the second study by Anderson and Dill, "how long you blow a horn, I would submit to you, is a far cry from concluding that that same person leaving a laboratory is likely to commit a physical, violent act in the real world."

Lowenstein points out that most games are bought by adults and says so-called "shooter games" make up just 3% of games sold. Further, he says, some research shows some games may be more "cathartic" than harmful. He also notes that there is a clearly worded rating system for video games, which can help parents control what their children see.

Dill, who says she has personally spent "hours" involved in video games, is not down on the concept, just the violence. "There are some good video games that try to teach pro-social behaviors," she says. "Video games themselves just seem to be incredibly engaging. ? I think it's just like any medium; television can be wonderful or horrible, and so can video games."

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