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Violent video games can lead to increased aggression and a lack of empathy. Image ©dollarphoto.com/phoenix021

Violent Video Games Linked to Aggressive Behavior

Call of Duty and other violent video games don’t conclusively contribute to criminal acts but they are linked to increased aggression in players according to a American Psychological Association report.

“The research demonstrates a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behavior, aggressive cognitions and aggressive affect, and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy and sensitivity to aggression,” says the APA Task Force on Violent Media.

The impact of violent video games has been studied for more than two decades but the connection between violent games and criminal violence has not been sufficiently connected. However, according to the chair of the task force, Mark Appelbaum, PhD, “the link between violence in video games and increased aggression in players is one of the most studied and best established in the field.”

The report acknowledges “no single risk factor consistently leads a person to act aggressively or violently. Rather, it is the accumulation of risk factors that tends to lead to aggressive or violent behavior. The research reviewed here demonstrates that violent video game use is one such risk factor.”

The task force is urging the video game industry to increase parents’ ability to control the amount of violence their children are exposed to in a game. They are also encouraging the Entertainment Software Rating Board to refine the video game rating system. Along with a more comprehensive rating system, the APA wants game developers to create games that are more appropriate to users’ age and psychological development as well.

Appelbaum recognizes numerous risk factors play a part in aggressive behavior and that the results of the research are complex but he also says “a strong and consistent general pattern has emerged from many years of research that provides confidence in our general conclusions.”

In the meantime parents will have to take it upon themselves to more closely monitor the amount of violence their children are exposed to in video games.