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No link between violent video games and increased aggression in teens, study finds

Oxford University describes study as "one of the most definitive to date"

A new study from the Oxford Internet Institute claims to have found no link between time spent playing violent video games, and increased aggressive behaviour teen teenagers.

Published in Royal Society Open Science, the study is "one of the most definitive to date" according to the University of Oxford.

While many studies have previously made similar and contrary claims, lead researcher professor Andrew Przybylski said the "idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn't tested very well over time".

According to the university, this study is set apart from previous work by preregistration, where researchers publish their hypothesis, methods and analysis technique before beginning research.

"Part of the problem in technology research is that there are many ways to analyse the same data, which will produce different results," said Przybylski.

"A cherry-picked result can add undue weight to the moral panic surrounding video games. The registered study approach is a safeguard against this."

This was supported by co-author Dr Netta Weinstein from Cardiff University who said: "Our findings suggest that researcher biases might have influenced previous studies on this topic, and have distorted our understanding of the effects of video games."

A common criticism of previous research in this area is its over-reliance on self-reporting. However, this latest study used a combination of subjective and data and information from parents and carers.

Although there was no correlation found between playing video games and agressive behaviour in tennagers, researchers noted that games can provoke angry feelings or reactions.

"Anecdotally, you do see things such as trash-talking, competitiveness and trolling in gaming communities that could qualify as antisocial behaviour,' says Przybylski. 'This would be an interesting avenue for further research."

The study used representative sample of British 14 and 15-year olds and the same number of their careers, totalling 2,008 subjects.

The published research, titled 'Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents' aggressive behaviour: evidence from a registered report', can be found here.

This research comes at a crucial time for the industry as debate around the effect of violent video games has returned with renewed increased vigour over the last 12 months.

Last year US president Donald Trump suggested violent video games were partly to blame for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parklands, Florida which left 17 dead, and convened a meeting with game company executives to discuss the issue.

In February Rhode Island state representative Robert Nardolillo III proposed a tax on violent video games claiming that "children exposed to violent video games at a young age tend to act more aggressively than those who are not".

Additionally, just last week a bill was revived in Pennsylvania proposing a 10% tax on violent games which the ESA described as "violation of the US constitution".

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Ivy Taylor avatar
Ivy Taylor: Ivy joined in 2017 having previously worked as a regional journalist, and a political campaigns manager before that. They are also one of the UK's foremost Sonic the Hedgehog apologists.
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