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Violent Video Games May Increase Aggression in Kids

Update Date: Mar 24, 2014 04:15 PM EDT

Violent video games really do boost aggressive behavior in children, according to a new study.

Even after accounting for parental involvement, gender, age and other factors, psychologists at Iowa State University, Ames, linked habitually playing violent video games appears to increased aggression in children.

Lead author Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., of Iowa State University, Ames, and his colleagues said the findings are worrying because more than nine out of ten American youths play video games, many of which depict violence being portrayed as fun, justified and without consequences.

The latest study involved 3,034 children and adolescents living in Singapore over three years. Participants were asked to report their gaming habits, aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition (aggressive fantasies, beliefs about aggression, and attaching reasons of hostility to vague provocations) and empathy. Researchers also studied the effects of age, sex, parental monitoring and other traits.

The findings revealed that children who frequently play violent video games are more likely to report experiencing long-term aggressive behavior through increases in aggressive cognition. The findings held true even after accounting for parental involvement, age, sex and initial aggressiveness, according to researchers. Even empathy did not seem to reduce the effects of playing violent video games on aggression.

"Because of the large number of youths and adults who play violent video games, improving our understanding of the effects is a significant research goal that has important implications for theory, public health and intervention strategies designed to reduce negative effects or to enhance potential positive effects," researchers wrote in the study.

Researchers noted that the findings need more research before people can conclude that cause-and-effect link between violent video games and increased aggression.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

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