Study: it’s probably not the violent video games making your kid aggressive


A new Swedish study finds no reason to blame video games for kids’ anger and aggression. Photo by Flickr user mdanys.

Those Swedes sure do things differently, what with the neutrality and the guaranteed school placement for young kids and the crappy science top-ranked science programs.

Maybe that explains how they looked at the same research that led American scientists to believe video games are harmful to kids, and come out with the completely opposite conclusion.

Here’s what happened: the Swedish Media Council looked at more than 100 studies of kids, violent video games, and aggression published between 2000 and 2011. At first blush, their findings look the same: they found a statistically significant link between violent gaming and aggressive behavior.

However, they don’t think the games have anything to do with the behavior:

Many of the studies use different methods to measure aggression, many of which lack a clear connection to violent behaviour.

In addition, a great deal of the research exploring causal links between violent computer games and aggressive behaviour “suffer from serious methodological deficiencies” and don’t provide sufficient evidence to establish a causal relationship.

The few studies that have attempted to examine other causes of aggression found that factors, such as poor physical health or family problems, can explain both violent behaviour and a propensity to play violent computer games.

(Emphasis mine.)

According to a statement from the council, “there is no evidence that violent computer games cause aggressive behaviour … If research can’t provide any simple answers about how games make children aggressive, perhaps we adults should stop judging the games children play based on whether they are violent or not.”

Those wacky Swedes. Who’s going to believe that, right?

I’d love to do a more detailed analysis of the study (PDF) and its methodology, but unfortunately, I don’t speak Swedish. And, admittedly, I am skeptical of studies-of-other-studies because I feel as though they can replicate the same biases of the original studies. In this case, that doesn’t seem to have happened.

So, who is the Swedish Media Council, then? In America, a group like that would be an independent firm, maybe something like Common Sense Media (which, by the way, has come out against violent video games for kids.) “The Swedish Media Council is a center for information on children and young people’s use of media such as the Internet, computer games, film, and TV. The Media Council is part of the Swedish Government’s Ministry of Culture and located in Stockholm.”

So they’re a government-funded agency. And they’re saying violent video games don’t hurt kids. And the folks saying this come from a country that puts some of the biggest emphasis on science, research, and innovation in the world.

I dunno. Should we believe them?

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4 responses to “Study: it’s probably not the violent video games making your kid aggressive

  1. Ah, moral panics..my thesis comes rushing back to me. As Goldie Lookin’ Chain once said ‘guns don’t kill people, rappers do’. Hey parents, look in the mirror…there you go, there’s your culprit.

    The Dippylomat esq.

  2. But but but GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM!!11!1!!

  3. have you seen any commercial for POWERAID!?, or energy drinks.
    It goes like” Contains the 4 most important minerals your body needs and restores the fluid balance” .. Well so does water…

    I use the same way of thinking with computer and aggression,
    so does sports, or any engaged activity !! Specially games with stakes or competitive/impersonated game play. Its NOT necessarily the VISUAL violence that’s the problem (That’s the problems for the retards in the debate ?), its more the FRUSTRATION and stress, and subjective perspective of surviving/winning/loosing.

    When you have the feeling something is at stake, of course you can be happy /mad when a end comes(most games are build this way) Of course a lot of visuals, sound and blood, other deeper sensory input can trigger a stress/= aggression, but compared to how much people punch each other in the street I’m fucking annoyed there is even people whining about this.

    The Swedish media council is very good and a lot more sources. But I usually don’t listen to media reports about these things as there is just to little tone to it. Sry for any bad English, Im Swedish.

  4. Pingback: Occupy, violent video games, didn’t kill couple | Backward Messages

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