Back to posting after my little hiatus (well actually a standardisation meeting) with more on the effect of television and video games on children’s behaviour thanks to those nice people over at The Situationist. I first talked about the possible effects of gaming on children’s behavior in the first few weeks of the site with the post “Grand Theft Auto might not be so grand“, but now we have more commentary on this. All of this should relate in some way-shape-or-form to Social Learning Theory which we look at in the AS course with Bandura’s study into the effect of aggressive role models on imitated behaviour.
An important point is first raised by the article on The Situationist:
Pathological acts of course have multiple, complex causes and are terribly hard to predict. And clearly, millions of people play Counter-Strike, Halo, and Doom and never commit crimes. But the subtler question is whether exposure to video-game violence is one risk factor for increased aggression: Is it associated with shifts in attitudes or responses that may predispose kids to act out? A large body of evidence suggests that this may be so. [quote]
Although it is important to realise that we can’t be deterministic in saying that if you play violent video games you will become pathologically violent, but it could, for those people who are susceptible, act as a trigger to violent behaviour. The article goes on to describe some interesting research in this area, and breaks in down into three types of research: correlations between exposure and violent behaviour; longitudinal research on the effects of exposure; and experimental studies investigating the effect of exposure in a controlled environment. There’s also a good critical review of the flaws of each of these methodologies.
The article finishes with the thesis that “the connection between violent games and real violence is also fairly intuitive” with children becoming desensitised to violent acts are a result of video games and other forms of media. It’s useful to see other ways of investigating the effect of violent games on behaviours and may help with alternative methods for studies in the developmental psychology area.