Some Evidence That Violent Video Games Reduce Actual Violence

(Photo: Mack Male)

(Photo: Mack Male)

A few weeks ago, we released a podcast called “Who Runs the Internet,” which included Levitt’s thoughts on whether online mayhem, including violent video games, may actually reduce real-world violence.  Here’s what Levitt had to say on the matter:

Maybe the biggest effect of all of having these violent video games is that they’re super fun for people to play, especially adolescent boys, maybe even adolescent boys who are prone to real violence. And so if you can make video games fun enough, then kids will stop doing everything else. They’ll stop watching TV, they’ll stop doing homework, and they’ll stop going out and creating mayhem on the street. 

The Times of Israel recently reported on a new study confirming Levitt’s theory:

The research, done by The Center for Educational Technology, asserts that video games — even violent ones — are beneficial for children on a scale much bigger than originally thought. The claims are in contradiction to other studies that found that extended gaming led to depression, anxiety and stunted social development, not to mention the physical effects brought on by long hours of sitting. Some studies have also linked between video games and increased violent behavior in children, arguing that simulated violence leads to real-life violence.

The center’s research involved over 1,000 children and adolescents ages six to 18, and concluded that video games were more than just entertainment; they improved learning, cognitive and interpersonal abilities, according to the study.

And it seems violent video games may help deter violence among another population: prison inmates. An article on Cracked, written by a former prison guard, claims that Xboxes and PlayStations are a great way of safely keeping inmates busy:

If you give them video games, they’ll be less likely to start fights. So once a week we’d hook up a bunch of TVs in a classroom so all of the murderers and rapists could play Halo. There’s nothing more interesting than seeing guys who have killed multiple people deathmatching each other.

(HT: Yehuda Aharon Simon)

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  1. Philip Cohen says:

    How is that study “confirming Levitt’s theory”? The Times of Israel article doesn’t mention violence as an outcome measure in the study. So that’s just wrong.

    I do think it’s likely that wasting adolescent boys’ time is a good way to reduce violence, but there is no evidence here to confirm that.


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  2. Manuel says:

    I agree, if we are aware that everything happens at the level of fantasy and not incurred in excess (play all day), playing some kind of game is a learning experience for the senses

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  3. NS says:

    My son is 17-years-old, & he plays video games everyday as long as he’s done his homework & chores. He does this daily. I don’t mind him playing any type of gaming. I’d rather have him home doing this than out somewhere with the wrong crowds at the wrong time.

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  4. Fatma says:

    I think that violent video games are extremely dangerous especially for young boys because it increase their actual violence and they might become without feeling when they kill even in the real life not only on video games !

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  5. Reem says:

    I think violent video games affect mostly on the personalty of teenager boys and make them interested in practicing violence at home with their small brothers and sisters. Although these video games leads to using violence but if teenagers played these games they will be less violent because they will use all their energy and effort in these games.

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  6. Naseem says:

    i agree with the fact that video games that have violence can turn into real life violence . Because as they said kids find it interesting to play it , so they would want to try and do it themselves. Even , they mentioned that mentally and physically a person can get effected . Mentally by thinking that its ok to do exactly like what the video game shows you in real life and believing that its something normal , while physically when a person plays a video game they sit a lot and have lack of activity or they cause violence by copying the actions from the game.

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  7. Smartypants says:

    All kids choose to express their anger in different ways and this study is proving effective ways in which they could do so there is nothing wrong with that.

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