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American Psychological Association Urges Developers to Design Games With “Increased Parental Control”

August 15, 2015 Written by Zarmena Khan

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The American Psychological Association (APA) has released a 49-page report that establishes a link between violent video games and aggression, declaring that such games are one of the “risk factors” of aggression. The report reviews previous researches on the topic that were carried out between 2005 and 2013, finding a “consistent relation between violent video game use and heightened aggressive behavior, aggressive cognitions, and aggressive affect and reduced prosocial behavior empathy and sensitivity to aggression.”

As a result, the APA has urged developers to design more age-appropriate games and include “increased parental control over the amount of violence the games contain.” Following are some of the excerpts from the report, but if you’re interested in going through the entire thing, click here.

The link between violent video game exposure and aggressive behavior is one of the most studied and best established. Of the 31 studies reviewed, 14 investigated the relation between violent video game use and aggressive behaviors. Aggressive behavior measures included experimental proxy paradigms, such as the administration of hot sauce or a noise blast to a confederate, self‐report questionnaires, peer nomination, and teacher rating of aggressiveness.

A positive association between violent video game use and increased aggressive behavior was found in most (12 of 14 studies) but not all studies published after the earlier meta‐analyses. This continues to be a reliable finding and shows good multi‐method consistency across various representations of both violent video game exposure and aggressive behavior. The findings were also seen in a range of samples, including those with older child, adolescent, and young adult participants. They also showed consistency over time, in that the new findings were similar in effect size to those of past meta‐analyses.

On the basis of our review of the literature directly addressing violent video game use, the task force concluded that violent video game use has an effect on aggression. This effect is manifested both as an increase in negative outcomes such as aggressive behavior, cognitions, and affect and as a decrease in positive outcomes such as prosocial behavior, empathy, and sensitivity to aggression. Although additional outcomes such as criminal violence, delinquency, and physiological and neurological changes appear in this literature, we did not find enough evidence of sufficient utility to evaluate whether these outcomes are affected by violent video game use.

Do note that the report accepts that there are other risk factors that lead to aggression, and that the link between aggressive behavior and violent games can be influenced by outside factors as well. Additionally, the APA has made it clear that there isn’t enough evidence to link video games to acts of criminal violence. 

Scientists have investigated the use of violent video games for more than two decades but to date, there is very limited research addressing whether violent video games cause people to commit acts of criminal violence.

However, the APA encourages openness and availability of information that helps the public in making informed decisions. 

What do our readers think of the report?

[Source: APA via Gamasutra]