I’ve been following the research on violent video game playing for decades. The news isn’t usually good and gamers become highly defensive whenever I post on this topic. So here we go again!
Consider this research as you choose your holiday presents. It confirms a finding we have known for years.
The study was presented at the annual Radiological Society of North America. It involved a small group of men, ages 18-29 years, who did NOT play violent video games. The researchers divided the group into two. They had one group play violent video games for 10 hours over the course of a week, and the other group did not play video games at all. Then both groups were tested with words of aggression while undergoing a functional MRI. The MRIs allowed researchers to actually see what changes occurred in the brain.
The finding: Playing violent video games desensitized the men to violence. This is a finding noted several times in other studies as well. The changes occurred in the area of the brain responsible for controlling emotions and aggressive behavior.
However, after a week of not playing the games, the brain changes returned to baseline levels. And the study did not prove whether it was the violence or playing the game that create brain changes.
With the number of violent video games that continue to be developed and marketed to our teens and young adults, we now have physical evidence that supports the idea that playing these games may make a person less sensitive to violence.
Is this something we want to continue to promote in our society?