A new study from Iowa State University suggests a solid link between video games, violence and delinquency. An ISU sociologist says the report shows a strong connection between exposure to video game violence and aggression, like hitting, teasing and name-calling.
Professor Matt DeLisi says they studied more than 200 juvenile offenders in Pennsylvania. “Violent video game playing is one of dozens or perhaps hundreds of risk factors that kids can have that is associated with delinquency and violence,” DeLisi says. “What’s really compelling with the current study is that it withstands all of these other effects that we know matter.”
The study concluded, both the frequency of play and the affinity for violent games were strongly associated with delinquent and violent behavior. “Some youth engage in simply addictive video game play, where they’re doing it for eight, ten, 12, 14 hours a day,” DeLisi says.
“Obviously, if you think about that amount of time playing violent content, that’s displacing a lot of other pro-social things that kids can be doing.” Just because a child plays a violent video game, he says, doesn’t mean he or she is going to act violently. As technology in video games has advanced, so have positive aspects of gameplay, like helping learn to solve problems and efforts that promote team-building.
“We can use video games not only to benefit cognitive factors but also to promote healthy social relationships,” DeLisi says. “Video game play can be very social.” Parents need to have an awareness of what games their children are playing and how that may influence their behavior.
“I think parents need to be truthful and honest about who their children are in terms of their psychiatric functioning,” DeLisi says. “If you have a kid who is antisocial, who is a little bit vulnerable to influence, giving them something that allows them to escape into themselves for a long period of time isn’t a healthy thing.”