Does playing violent video games increase tendencies toward violence? Researched published today in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, states that it does. As reported here, “[c]hildren and teenagers who play violent video games show increased physical aggression months afterward.” The research is based on two studies performed in Japan and one performed in the U.S. and finds consistent results despite the cultural differences in the two countries. “The study in the United States showed an increased likelihood of getting into a fight at school or being identified by a teacher or peer
as being physically aggressive five to six months later in the same school year.” The author of one of the studies put the findings in context: “A healthy, normal, nonviolent child or adolescent who has no other risk factors for high aggression or violence is not going to become a school shooter simply because they play five hours or 10 hours a week of these violent video games.”
This brings me back to last week’s discussion in Internet law about Ashcroft v Free Speech Coalition, in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Child Pornography Prevention Act which, among other things, banned virtual child pornography. The Court relied in part on the lack of a demonstrated causal link (not merely a correlation) between viewing child pornography and engaging in pedophilia. Based on the reporting about this study, the link may be less tentative than I thought.