Over the past 50 years, research has linked violent media exposure to increased aggression in young people. This month’s Pediatrics adds two new studies to the mix: one on Internet violence and one on violent video games. Both recommend reducing or eliminating youth exposure to violent media.
One study found a link between being exposed to Internet violence and exhibiting seriously violent behavior, such as murder, assault, and robbery. The research showed that, with each additional type of violent site (e.g., hate sites, snuff sites, and sites showing satanic rituals) viewed, a youth’s likelihood of reporting such behavior increased by 50%. In another finding described by CNN.com, young people who reported that " ‘many, most or all’ of the Internet sites
they frequented featured ‘real people fighting, shooting or killing’
were five times more likely than their peers who didn’t visit violent
Web sites to engage in seriously violent behavior."
The second study further explores the connection between playing violent video games and increased aggression. It found that habitually playing violent video games increased young people’s chances of being physically aggressive in the future, regardless of whether they already exhibited such behavior. It also showed that these effects occur across cultures (in this case, the U.S. and Japan)–even, as the researchers indicated, when the cultures display very different levels of violence.