Experimental study of the differential effects of playing versus watching violent video games on children's aggressive behavior

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Abstract

There is great concern about the effects of playing violent video games on aggressive behavior. The present experimental study was aimed at investigating the differential effects of actively playing vs. passively watching the same violent video game on subsequent aggressive behavior. Fifty-seven children aged 10–13 either played a violent video game (active violent condition), watched the same violent video game (passive violent condition), or played a non-violent video game (active non-violent condition). Aggression was measured through peer nominations of real-life aggressive incidents during a free play session at school. After the active participation of actually playing the violent video game, boys behaved more aggressively than did the boys in the passive game condition. For girls, game condition was not related to aggression. These findings indicate that, specifically for boys, playing a violent video game should lead to more aggression than watching television violence. Aggr. Behav. 34:256–264, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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