A new analysis of 130 total studies covering more than 130,000 gamers from elementary school age to college age conducted in the U.S.A., Europe and Japan reasserts the influence of violent video games on aggression in children. Dr. Craig Anderson's conclusions appeared in Psychological Bulletin
, a journal of the American Psychological Association
Dr. Anderson is a psychologist at Iowa State University. After reviewing the findings of past studies, Anderson said
"Playing those types of games increased the likelihood of later aggressive behavior, increase aggressive emotion. It also increases what you might think of as desensitization, or a lack of empathy."
Anderson said the results held regardless of age gender and culture. He added that his team examined all of the relevant studies from around the world that they could find.
The conclusions are not without rebuttal, however. In an accompanying commentary, Christopher Ferguson and John Kilburn of the department of behavioral applied science and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University note flaws in Anderson's analysis, including what they say is his own selection bias. Selection bias means what it sounds like: that you choose a non-representative group of people for the study.
In a prepared statement, Michael D. Gallagher, president of the Entertainment Software Association, responded:
Numerous authorities, including the U.S. Surgeon General, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and numerous courts have thoroughly and critically examined the social science research and found that it does not establish any causal link between violent content and violent behavior.
Most recently in 2008, Drs. Cheryl K. Olson and Lawrence Kutner, co-founders and directors of the Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health and Media, conducted a study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice on the effects of video games on young teenagers. In contrast to previous research, they studied real children and families in real situations. In their authoritative analysis, Grand Theft Childhood, they found that 'the strong link between video game violence and real world violence, and the conclusion that video games lead to social isolation and poor interpersonal skills, are drawn from bad or irrelevant research, muddleheaded thinking and unfounded, simplistic news reports.'