Concept: Video game controversy
Past research has found that playing a classic prosocial video game resulted in heightened prosocial behavior when compared to a control group, whereas playing a classic violent video game had no effect. Given purported links between violent video games and poor social behavior, this result is surprising. Here our aim was to assess whether this finding may be due to the specific games used. That is, modern games are experienced differently from classic games (more immersion in virtual environments, more connection with characters, etc.) and it may be that playing violent video games impacts prosocial behavior only when contemporary versions are used.
It is a widespread concern that violent video games promote aggression, reduce pro-social behaviour, increase impulsivity and interfere with cognition as well as mood in its players. Previous experimental studies have focussed on short-term effects of violent video gameplay on aggression, yet there are reasons to believe that these effects are mostly the result of priming. In contrast, the present study is the first to investigate the effects of long-term violent video gameplay using a large battery of tests spanning questionnaires, behavioural measures of aggression, sexist attitudes, empathy and interpersonal competencies, impulsivity-related constructs (such as sensation seeking, boredom proneness, risk taking, delay discounting), mental health (depressivity, anxiety) as well as executive control functions, before and after 2 months of gameplay. Our participants played the violent video game Grand Theft Auto V, the non-violent video game The Sims 3 or no game at all for 2 months on a daily basis. No significant changes were observed, neither when comparing the group playing a violent video game to a group playing a non-violent game, nor to a passive control group. Also, no effects were observed between baseline and posttest directly after the intervention, nor between baseline and a follow-up assessment 2 months after the intervention period had ended. The present results thus provide strong evidence against the frequently debated negative effects of playing violent video games in adults and will therefore help to communicate a more realistic scientific perspective on the effects of violent video gaming.
The effects of video games on children’s psychosocial development remain the focus of debate. At two timepoints, 1 year apart, 194 children (7.27-11.43 years old; male = 98) reported their gaming frequency, and their tendencies to play violent video games, and to game (a) cooperatively and (b) competitively; likewise, parents reported their children’s psychosocial health. Gaming at time one was associated with increases in emotion problems. Violent gaming was not associated with psychosocial changes. Cooperative gaming was not associated with changes in prosocial behavior. Finally, competitive gaming was associated with decreases in prosocial behavior, but only among children who played video games with high frequency. Thus, gaming frequency was related to increases in internalizing but not externalizing, attention, or peer problems, violent gaming was not associated with increases in externalizing problems, and for children playing approximately 8 h or more per week, frequent competitive gaming may be a risk factor for decreasing prosocial behavior. We argue that replication is needed and that future research should better distinguish between different forms of gaming for more nuanced and generalizable insight.
Concerns about problematic gaming behaviors deserve our full attention. However, we claim that it is far from clear that these problems can or should be attributed to a new disorder. The empirical basis for a Gaming Disorder proposal, such as in the new ICD-11, suffers from fundamental issues. Our main concerns are the low quality of the research base, the fact that the current operationalization leans too heavily on substance use and gambling criteria, and the lack of consensus on symptomatology and assessment of problematic gaming. The act of formalizing this disorder, even as a proposal, has negative medical, scientific, public-health, societal, and human rights fallout that should be considered. Of particular concern are moral panics around the harm of video gaming. They might result in premature application of diagnosis in the medical community and the treatment of abundant false-positive cases, especially for children and adolescents. Second, research will be locked into a confirmatory approach, rather than an exploration of the boundaries of normal versus pathological. Third, the healthy majority of gamers will be affected negatively. We expect that the premature inclusion of Gaming Disorder as a diagnosis in ICD-11 will cause significant stigma to the millions of children who play video games as a part of a normal, healthy life. At this point, suggesting formal diagnoses and categories is premature: the ICD-11 proposal for Gaming Disorder should be removed to avoid a waste of public health resources as well as to avoid causing harm to healthy video gamers around the world.
The present study examined whether action videogames can improve multi-tasking in high workload environments. Two groups with no action videogame experience were pre-tested using the Multi-Attribute Task Battery (MATB). It consists of two primary tasks; tracking and fuel management, and two secondary tasks; systems monitoring and communication. One group served as a control group, while a second played action videogames a minimum of 5 h a week for 10 weeks. Both groups returned for a post-assessment on the MATB. We found the videogame treatment enhanced performance on secondary tasks, without interfering with the primary tasks. Our results demonstrate action videogames can increase people’s ability to take on additional tasks by increasing attentional capacity.
The United States Supreme Court’s recent decision relating to violent video games revealed divisions within the scientific community about the potential for negative effects of such games as well as the need for more, higher quality research. Scholars also have debated the potential for violent games to have positive effects such as on visuospatial cognition or math ability. The current study sought to extend previous literature by using well-validated clinical outcome measures for relevant constructs, which have generally been lacking in past research. Cross-section data on aggression, visuospatial cognition, and math achievement were available for a sample of 333 (51.7 % female) mostly Hispanic youth (mean age = 12.76). Prospective 1-year data on aggression and school GPA were available for 143 (46.2 % female) of those youth. Results from both sets of analysis revealed that exposure to violent game had neither short-term nor long-term predictive influences on either positive or negative outcomes. A developmental analysis of the cross-sectional data revealed that results did not differ across age categories of older children, preadolescents or adolescents. Analysis of effect sizes largely ruled out Type II error as a possible explanation for null results. Suggestions for new directions in the field of video game research are proffered.
The issue of children’s exposure to violent video games has been a source of considerable debate for several decades. Questions persist whether children with pre-existing mental health problems may be influenced adversely by exposure to violent games, even if other children are not. We explored this issue with 377 children (62 % female, mixed ethnicity, mean age = 12.93) displaying clinically elevated attention deficit or depressive symptoms on the Pediatric Symptom Checklist. Results from our study found no evidence for increased bullying or delinquent behaviors among youth with clinically elevated mental health symptoms who also played violent video games. Our results did not support the hypothesis that children with elevated mental health symptoms constitute a “vulnerable” population for video game violence effects. Implications and suggestions for further research are provided.
To assess whether tobacco content found in video games was appropriately labelled for tobacco-related content by the Entertainment and Software Ratings Board (ESRB).
News coverage of video game violence studies has been critiqued for focusing mainly on studies supporting negative effects and failing to report studies that did not find evidence for such effects. These concerns were tested in a sample of 68 published studies using child and adolescent samples. Contrary to our hypotheses, study effect size was not a predictor of either newspaper coverage or publication in journals with a high-impact factor. However, a relationship between poorer study quality and newspaper coverage approached significance. High-impact journals were not found to publish studies with higher quality. Poorer quality studies, which tended to highlight negative findings, also received more citations in scholarly sources. Our findings suggest that negative effects of violent video games exposure in children and adolescents, rather than large effect size or high methodological quality, increase the likelihood of a study being cited in other academic publications and subsequently receiving news media coverage.
The emerging controversy related to the potential cardiotoxic effects of high doses of intense exercise need to be considered among the much stronger evidence that supports the pleomorphic benefits of exercise as a whole. However, there is fairly compelling evidence to support the association between long-term sport practice and an increased prevalence of atrial fibrillation and the fact that this relates to a chronic altered atrial substrate. This article was designed to challenge the reader with speculative science that suggests that exercise might promote permanent structural changes in the myocardium which can, in some individuals, predispose to arrhythmias. In terms of long-term health outcomes, it would seem that these small risks are outweighed by the many other benefits of exercise, including a likely decrease in atherosclerotic vascular events, although some recent results have brought into question whether the protective benefits of exercise on vascular events also extends to high-intensity exercise training. Above all else, in this article we sought to highlight current controversies to stimulate research on the many unanswered questions. In particular, there is a lack of adequately powered prospective studies from which we can measure health outcomes and their relationship to exercise-induced cardiac remodelling.