Young adolescents who play a lot of violent video games see the world as more

Young adolescents who play a lot of violent video

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Young adolescents who play a lot of violent video games see the world as more hostile. Compared with nongaming kids, they get into more arguments and fights and get worse grades (Gentile, 2009). Ah, but is this merely because naturally hostile kids are drawn to such games? Apparently not. Comparisons of gamers and nongamers who scored low in hostility revealed a difference in the number of reported fights: 38 percent of the violent-game players had been in fights, versus only 4 percent of the nongamers. Over time, the nongamers became more likely to have fights only if they started playing the violent games (Anderson, 2004a). Among German adolescents, today's violent game playing also predicts future aggression, but today's aggression does not predict future game playing (Möller & Krahé, 2008). Some researchers believe that, due partly to the more active participation and rewarded violence of game play, violent video games have even greater effects on aggressive behavior and cognition than do violent television and movies (Anderson & Warburton, 2012). Some of these researchers suggest that the effects of violent gaming are comparable to the toxic effects of asbestos or second-hand smoke exposure (Bushman et al., 2010). "Playing violent video games probably will not turn your child into a psychopathic killer," acknowledged researcher Brad Bushman (2011), "but I would want to know how the child treats his or her parents, how they treat their siblings, how much compassion they have." Others are unimpressed by violent-game-effect findings (Ferguson & Kilburn, 2010). They note that from 1996 to 2006, youth violence was declining while video game sales were increasing. Moreover, some point out that avid game players are quick and sharp: They develop speedy reaction times and enhanced visual skills (Dye et al., 2009; Green et al., 2010). The focused fun of game playing can satisfy basic needs for a sense of competence, control, and social connection (Przbylski et al., 2010). And in fact, a 2011 Supreme Court decision overturned a California state law that banned violent video game sales to children (modeled after the bans on sales of sexually explicit materials to children). The First Amendment's free speech guarantee protects even offensive games, said the court's majority, which was unpersuaded by the evidence of harm. So, the debate continues. To sum up, significant behaviors, such as aggression, usually have many determinants, making any single explanation an oversimplification. Asking what causes aggression is therefore like asking what causes cancer. Asbestos exposure, for example, is indeed a cancer cause, albeit only one among many. Research reveals many different biological, psychological, and social-cultural
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influences on aggressive behavior. Like so much else, aggression is a biopsychosocial phenomenon (Figure 11).
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