Computer games have once again been condemned by critics who believe that young people become more violent by playing violent computer games.
Most recently, this is especially evident in the United States where mass shootings again have resulted in several deaths. One of the perpetrators of a recent mass shooting was a young man who made frequent use of the anonymous chat forum 8chan. This has prompted the president of the United States, Donald Trump, to point out that violent computer games are problematic and need to be dealt with as a result.
Previously published studies have shown that there is a correlation between violent behaviour and violent computer games. However, it has never been established what leads to what. In other words, does playing violent computer games lead to doing violent crimes or do violent criminals just have an urge to play violent computer games? And if so, does that result in them becoming more violent?
The study corrects the misreporting from previous studies
The study, which is made by researchers from Oxford and Cardiff University, has examined over a thousand young Britons between the age of 14 and 15 who play violent computer games. The study differs from the previous studies that have shown a correlation between violent computer games and violent behaviour because the researchers from this study did not let their young participants evaluate their own behaviour.
The researchers point out that there is a pitfall in the research that currently exists in the field. When young people have to evaluate themselves, it is not possible to know for certain whether they give a true and fair view. Because of this, the researchers have tried to minimise this pitfall by asking the caregivers of the participants to assess the participants’ behaviour over time instead.
The two researchers write: “We have taken these steps to minimise the risk of errors in self-reporting.”
Furthermore, the researchers write in their study that previous studies, which have shown a correlation between violent computer games and violent behaviour, have been published with publication bias. Publication bias occurs when researchers become biased towards publishing something sensational in order to obtain prestige and if there appears to be a correlation between two variables, research findings can be published without alternative explanations being considered.
No connection has been found… yet
The researchers write in their study: “We believe this study answers the key question of whether young people’s habit of playing violent computer games has a measurable effect on aggressive behaviour in the real world. Based on our evidence, the answer to this question is no.”
No connection was found for either the boys or the girls participating in the study.
The researchers write as a final note that because their study is the first of its kind with reliable methodology, the result of this study should not be considered as an absolute truth. It is not until additional studies, which build on this newly created hypothesis, have been published that we can begin to see certain results.