You would be hard-pressed not to find a child who doesn’t enjoy playing video games nowadays. Because video games that depict violence, like ones that involve shooting guns, have become so popular, some might be led to believe that these can cause their children to exhibit future violent behavior.
However, the American Psychological Association (APA) says in a new report that there is insufficient evidence to support a “causal link between violent video games and violent behavior.”
According to a press release published on March 3, 2020, the APA’s Council of Representatives put together a task force to review the association’s 2015 resolution after policymakers and members of the media stated on multiple occasions that violent video games cause violent behavior, including the mass shootings that have been plaguing the United States in recent years.
This task force reviewed the existing literature on the topic. Their findings mirrored those of another literature review conducted by the APA in 2015: There is a “small, reliable association between violent video game use and aggressive outcomes, such as yelling and pushing. However, these research findings are difficult to extend to more violent outcomes.”
“Violence is a complex social problem that likely stems from many factors that warrant attention from researchers, policymakers and the public,” saysSandra L. Shullman, Ph.D., president of the APA.
“Attributing violence to video gaming is not scientifically sound and draws attention away from other factors, such as a history of violence, which we know from the research is a major predictor of future violence.”
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Fatherlyreports that the task force recommends the development of research-supported intervention programs that will educate both children and parents on the effects of playing violent video games.
The APA reiterates that it has been studying the effects of video games and other media on children and encouraging the industry to design games with adequate parental controls and that it will continue to work closely with school officials and leaders to raise awareness about this issue that might be worrying many parents.
In their report, the task force also points out that it is aware of the ongoing debate on the effects of violent video games and how those effects may translate to real-life. “It calls for civility and mutual respect in continued discourse on the topic,” the report says.