Saturday, December 8, 2012

Video Game Violence Upgrade!

An upgrade to my blog is underway.

Nope it's not a computer upgrade.

It's a learning upgrade.  I am very excited by an article (2012)* by Willoughby, Adachi and Good, that studies associations between Video Game Violence and Aggression.   This looks to be a very important study that puts to rest a number of complaints about research in this area.

Unfortunately, it is stretching me to understand their methodology so while I am eager to talk about their research  and compare it to others, I have to go back and refresh my understanding of "Latent Growth Curve Modeling." Sounds fun doesn't it? I am so excited to read it I have cleared 20 other equally highly stimulating tasks off my list to make way for it (e.g., cleaning attic windows, studying the Book of Numbers, and learning about the mating habits of cockroaches to name a few).

If you recall, in the last article I discussed that there isn't really a good ethical way to study causality of violence in children and adolescents.  I gave the example of sticking a hand in a toaster to see if it causes burning.  It would be wrong to experiment this way with children.  It also would be wrong to make children play violent video games over long periods of time, if you think it may cause them to be violent.

The answer is longitudinal studies. Instead of telling 30+ children to stick their hands in toasters, you instead observe 300+ children to see how many stick their hands in toasters over time and then compare the outcomes between the kids that were able to restrain the impulse of sticking hands in toasters and those that couldn't restrain themselves. (My apologies to every impulsive child out there who has ever stuck their hand in a toaster for using this example!) Willoughby, Adachi and Good have done longitudinal research over 4 years on video game violence and aggression among adolescents.  It is a good read.  I still wish you could learn about this by playing an educational video game...oh well.

So whilst I go back and finish my upgrade, have fun Christmas shopping and try to pick educational and social video games instead of violent ones for your kids because it looks like there may be due cause to be concerned that video games cause violence.

*Willoughby, Adachi, and Good. (2012) "A Longitudinal Study of the Association Between Violent Video Game Play and Aggression Among Adolescents." Developmental Psychology. Vol 48, No. 4, 1044-1057.