Do video games cause violence? It’s one of the most hotly debated topics of the 21st century – even the President of the United States has had something to say about it. While there’s a plethora of studies that have already aimed to debunk this claim, one recent New Zealand study aims to end it for good.
Led by Aaron Drummond of New Zealand’s Massey University, researchers analyzed and re-examined twenty-eight older studies that linked video games with aggressive behavior by using a study design known as meta-analysis, which analyzes the results of previous research to draw new conclusions. What new conclusions did they find? Published in the Royal Society Open Science, the researchers recorded that when lumped together, the studies showed such a minor positive correlation between video games and aggression that they couldn’t even classify it as a”small effect”.
“Experimental investigations of the short-term effects of aggressive game content on player aggression produce inconsistent results,” the report said. “…Publication bias indicators yielded no evidence of publication bias. Thus, current research is unable to support the hypothesis that violent video games have a meaningful long-term predictive impact on youth aggression.”
The various studies used had data that dated back all the way to 2008, and only a quarter of them found a positive correlation, with one 2011 study even finding a negative correlation. This study joins the list of countless others that supports the claim that video games do not cause aggression.
Rather fittingly, one of the Royal Society Open Science’s most-read studies is a 2019 report claiming “violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents’ aggressive behavior“. This study had similar results to 2020 one, recruiting a large sample of adolescents and measuring aggression and prosocial behavior. Both studies agree that the impact video games have on a child or teen’s psyche is a subject worth studying further.
“Despite the null findings identified in the present study, history gives us reason to suspect the idea that violent video games drive aggressive behavior will remain an unsettled question for parents, pundits, and policy-makers,” the 2019 study said in its closing remarks.