U of M Prof. Compares Videogames Causing Violence to Smoking Causing Cancer

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Published by GameFront.com 11 years ago , last updated 2 months ago

Posted on November 28, 2007, Shawn Sines U of M Prof. Compares Videogames Causing Violence to Smoking Causing Cancer


University of Michigan professor L. Rowell Huesmann published an article in a supplement to this month’s Journal of Adolescent Health that has reignited the debate over the correlation between exposure to violent videogames and aggressive behavior.

The most recent state laws attempting to regulate the sale of violent games were overturned as unconstitutional, in large part because the states couldn’t convince judges that exposure to violent games incited violent behavior in children. Had they been able to do so, a judge could have ruled that the government had a compelling interest in limiting the free speech protections afforded games, making such content-based laws constitutional.

But as long as politicians like Hillary Clinton and Sam Brownback continue to take the game industry to task for games like Manhunt 2, research on the effects of violent games on kids will be a hot-button topic for gaming advocates and detractors alike.

In a review of existing research titled “The Impact of Electronic Media Violence: Scientific Theory and Research,” Huesmann presented findings from a variety of scientific papers published over the last 44 years (many of them his own). Ultimately, he concluded that there is compelling evidence to suggest exposure to violent TV programs, films, and video games increases the likelihood of a person acting violently, both in the short term and the long term.

Curiously, neither study referenced in this article involves video games at all, yet Huesmann states that “the size of the effect” of videogame violence on aggressive behavior constitutes an public health threat.

Finally, Huesmann compared the effect of media violence on aggressive behavior to the effects “of many other recognized threats to public health.” He said the correlation between the two was nearly as strong as that between smoking and lung cancer, and stronger than the correlations between condom use and sexually transmitted HIV, exposure to lead and IQ scores in children, and homework and academic achievement.

I’m hard pressed to accept that the rate of people acting out violent behavior because of exposure to violent videogames is comparable to the linked behaviors and their outcomes cited by Huesmann. The incidence of felonies and even minor crimes attributed to gamers would be much higher than can be accounted for.

via  GameSpot News

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