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Ten-Year Long Study Confirms No Link Between Playing Violent Video Games as Early as Ten Years Old and Aggressive Behavior Later in Life
Ten-Year Long Study Confirms No Link Between Playing Violent Video Games as Early as Ten Years Old and Aggressive Behavior Later in Life

A ten-year longitudinal study published in the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking on a group in early adolescence from as young as ten years old, investigated how playing violent video games at an early age would translate into adulthood behavior (23 years of age). Titled "Growing Up with Grand Theft Auto: A 10-Year Study of Longitudinal Growth of Violent Video Game Play in Adolescents" the study found no correlation between growing up playing video games and increased levels of aggression ten years later.

This particular study utilized a more contemporary approach for analyzing its data, known as the person-centered approach. Traditional studies use a variable-centered approach whereby researchers treat each variable, or characteristic, as related to another variable. An example would be that exercising is related to a reduced incidence of heart disease. This has been particularly valuable when comparing groups. In a person-centered approach researchers combine various algorithms across variables to determine how these variables compare among individuals. This approach provides a more accurate depiction of how variables relate to the individual.

As such, this study “accounts for heterogeneity, grouping individuals who are similar and who share a set of characteristics that vary similarly over time.” Participant families were recruited through “a large north-western city” beginning in 2007 (Wave 1) via telephone directories and required to complete questionnaires. 65% were Caucasian, 12% black and 19% multi-ethnic, 4% other. Families of lower socioeconomic status were underrepresented as part of the initial sample group and therefore needed recruitment via referrals and fliers to add to and diversify the sample group.

Video game violence ratings were assessed through the Common Sense Media, known to be a viable rating body for media. Participants were assessed through various behavioral characteristics such as aggression, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, and prosocial behavior.

Results showed that boys played more violent video games than girls. Groups displayed three forms of video game play, according to the study: high-initial violence (4%) which indicated individuals played a high-level of violent video games at an early age, moderate initial violence (23%) whereby violent video game play was moderate at an early age, and low initial violence (73%).

The study concluded that group with low initial violence “was no higher in aggressive behavior than the high initial violence group at the final time point.” Therefore, it is determined that adolescents who played a high-level of violent video games at an early age did not show more aggressive behavior later in life than those who played fewer to no hours of violent video games at an early age.