The Weekend Gamer
Thoughts on gaming culture, living among non-gamers, and growing up in the nintendo generation

Harvard Researchers: Video Games Don’t Create Killers

A new book by Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson makes the claim that video games do not turn children into violent criminals. The pair of researchers from Harvard Medial school released a book last month entitled “Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do”, and aimed at putting to rest some of the common myths about gaming. Some good quotes from the article:

“What I hope people realize is that there is no data to support the simple-minded concerns that video games cause violence,” Kutner told Reuters.

The pair reached that conclusion after conducting a two-year study of more than 1,200 middle-school children about their attitudes towards video games.

It was a different approach than most other studies, which have focused on laboratory experiments that attempt to use actions like ringing a loud buzzer as a measure of aggression.

“What we did that had rarely been done by other researchers was actually talk to the kids. It sounds bizarre but it hadn’t been done,” Kutner said.

They found that playing video games was a near-universal activity among children, and was often intensely social.

The book urges a common-sense approach that takes stock of the entire range of a child’s behavior. Frequent fighting, bad grades, and obsessive gaming can be signs for trouble.

“If you have, for example, a girl who plays 15 hours a week of exclusively violent video games, I’d be very concerned because it’s very unusual,” Kutner said.

“But for boys (the danger sign) is not playing video games at all, because it looks like for this generation, video games are a measure of social competence for boys.”

Sounds like a pretty interesting read. I might have to pick it up. Obviously I’m pretty pleased that some reputable researchers are being fair and sensible when it comes to gaming, but I doubt this will convince anyone in Washington. We’ll see.

–WG

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2 Responses to “Harvard Researchers: Video Games Don’t Create Killers”

  1. I read about this book a while ago and haven’t picked it up yet, but it certainly does look interesting. I’ve always thought that the so-called research “proving” that GTA and Mortal Kombat turn little innocent angels into juvenile murderers were ridiculous.

  2. I think it sounds like a lot of people need to read this book… namely a bunch of politicians concerned about what kind of entertainment breeds this or that kind of person.


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