Do violent video games make teenagers more aggressive?

New study finds no link between on-screen violence and real-world antisocial behaviour

Some critics claim games such as Grand Theft Auto IV pose real-life dangers
(Image credit: 2008 Getty Images)

Violent computer games do not encourage aggressive behaviour in teenage players, a new study suggests.

Researchers surveyed 1,000 British youths aged 14 and 15 and found that around half of the girls and two-thirds of the boys played video games, The Independent reports. As with previous such studies, each teen was quizzed about their personality and gaming habits.

But unlike previous research, the youngsters’ parents or guardians were also questioned about their post-gaming attitudes and behaviour.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

The scientists concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that players of games with violent themes, such as the Grand Theft Auto franchise, showed increased signs of aggression.

The potential link has been hotly debated since then-teenager Devin Moore hinted that his triple-murder rampage in Alabama in 2003 was the result of playing computer games.

US President Donald Trump has also argued that violent games and movies spawn aggressive behaviour, reports Time magazine.

Following the murder of 17 people in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkstone, Florida, last February, Trump said: “I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.”

The White House subsequently released a video on YouTube highlighting violent scenes in recent games.

The American Psychological Association has warned that teens should limit the amount of time they spend playing video games, says the Daily Mail.

But Andrew Przybylski, who led the new study at Oxford University’s Internet Institute, believes such fears are ungrounded.

“What we found was that there are a lot of things that feed in to aggression,” he told Sky News. “There are some effects of gender and some people who are from different life backgrounds have higher or lower ratings, but video game play didn’t really seem to matter here.”

Przybylski added: “We should be looking at other things - maybe it is frustrations, maybe it is family or life circumstance - that we should be spending more time on.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.