Study Shows No Harmful Impact From Gaming On Children

A paper published this year (pdf) by the University Of Glasgow (and only just spotted by us and everyone else) looked at whether playing videogames at 5 years old brought about any behavioural changes by the time the subjects were 7. And found there none. In fact, it found that while they could measure an extremely small difference when it came to more time spent in front of the television, perhaps surprisingly, the same wasn’t shown to be true of gaming. Of course, as is always the case, it’s well worth asking “why?” before marching down the street sounding trumpets. Let’s take a look.

The science of whether videogames adversely affect children’s behaviour has never been great. Studies have focused on ludicrously small sample sizes, looked for peculiar or inspecific behaviours and then drawn wild conclusions (both for an against the argument), or been funded by lunatic fundamentalist pressure groups who then twist the findings to their needs. So the Alison Parkes, Helen Sweeting, Daniel Wright, et al’s large-scale longitudinal study into how both television and games affect children is very welcome indeed.

11,014 children were featured in this trial, making it by far one of the largest of its kind. The aim was to explore what behavioural changes would be seen in those children who spent more hours in front of television and videogames at such a young age. I’d add that this is a key developmental period in a young child’s life, the same time as they would be experiencing school for the first time. The paper’s methods state,

“Typical daily hours viewing television and playing electronic games at age 5 years were reported by mothers of 11 014 children from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Conduct problems, emotional symptoms, peer relationship problems, hyperactivity/inattention and prosocial behaviour were reported by mothers using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Change in adjustment from age 5 years to 7 years was regressed on screen exposures; adjusting for family characteristics and functioning, and child characteristics.”

Studies predicting children’s behaviour in response to videogames are rare. And that’s generally a question of morality – trying to conduct a study where a select group of very young children are required to play adult videogames in order to measure changes in their behaviour… well, you can see why that’d have trouble getting past an ethics committee. The Glasgow study has the enormous advantage of not being directly involved in the gaming exposure, instead following the private lives of such a large group of families, without direct influence. And as a result, for the first time we can see data that reflects something closer to the reality of gaming’s effects. And that data shows that while increased hours of TV exposure shows a minor by statistically significant increase in behavioural issues, gaming did not.

“Watching TV for 3 h or more at 5 years predicted a 0.13 point increase (95% CI 0.03 to 0.24) in conduct problems by 7 years, compared with watching for under an hour, but playing electronic games was not associated with conduct problems. No associations were found between either type of screen time and emotional symptoms, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems or prosocial behaviour. There was no evidence of gender differences in the effect of screen time.”

The paper points out in its introduction just how much this goes against the expected. Gaming, we have been told for many years, is much more directly linked with aggression, ADHD, and social issues. As the paper postulates,

“Games may have more powerful effects due to active user engagement, identification with characters and repeated rehearsal and reinforcement. Gaming’s interactive and absorbing qualities may substitute for interpersonal relationships and increase social isolation. Such isolation may provoke anxiety and depression, or, if coupled with reduced empathy (from exposure to violent games) may depress prosocial behaviour.”

That’s familiar reading, and seems to represent the accepted fears of a child’s playing games. However, this apparently rigorous study (by my reading of it) showed something strikingly different. Conducted via the Millennium Cohort Study, which followed the lives of around 19,000 families for the first seven years of their child’s life, the research group gave the mothers of the families the Strengths And Difficulties Questionnaire to measure behavioural changes in their children. And crucially, it differentiated between television screen time (TV, DVDs) and videogame screen time, as well as gender. It has so often been assumed that TV and gaming were analogous, that most previous studies haven’t differentiated.

So what did they find? First of all, there was no significant difference in behavioural changes between boys and girls at all, when comparing like-for-like times in front of the screen. TV showed significant – albeit small – negative changes in “conduct problems” when young children were exposed to more than three hours a day. The same time spent gaming showed no statistically significant changes at all.

So how come? It’s worth reading the paper itself to see quite how carefully the results have been adjusted for a great many of external factors that would have effects on a child’s behaviour. But one of the most immediately relevant factors might well be the increased control parents may have over the videogames a five year old plays. It’s far easier for television to go unmonitored than what games a kid has access to, and while there will certainly be plenty of examples of children who have access to 18 certificate games, it’s much more likely that parents are going more closely monitor this. So perhaps the study wasn’t measuring like for like in terms of content? And of course the study is severely limited by relying entirely on the honesty of the mothers filing the reports. And indeed the lack of information about what programmes or games were being watched or played.

It’s also worth noting that the findings for the negative effects of television were much less than some previous studies have found. You may want to interpret that as meaning their methods resulted in lower findings, and apply that to the gaming numbers. But the paper itself argues that this is because of a greater taking into account of “confounders” – other aspects of a young person’s life that might affect their behavioural changes. Traditionally such studies tend to adjust for nothing other than demographic information, which relies on sweeping generalisations when it comes to other potential influences. This study aimed to adjust the findings to eliminate as many of these as was possible, in order to get figures that genuinely reflected screen time. And I’d argue that’s a big deal – so very often similar studies used to condemn gaming by the press have failed to take such things into account, and have offered data that absolutely fails to recognise the reality of young people’s lives. They leave themselves open to questions like, “But what if that child were watching more television because of a complete lack of parental involvement? Surely the lack of parenting is the significant factor?” This study, to my reading, attempts to adjust for that.

Of course, another factor the study can’t measure for is whether it’s actually what takes place when a child is not in front of a screen that accounts for a positive impact on their lives. Perhaps rather than three hours plus of TV directly causing problems, it’s the activities that replace screen time that actively prevent them?

So conclusions? It seems the takeaway message here is that moderate screen time of any type has little to no effect on a child’s behaviour or developmental issues. And yes, this is a very strong, well-conducted study that does show that gaming appears to be a less harmful pursuit for young people than television. It’s not possible to draw the broad, celebratory conclusions that I’m sure some will take from this study, and champion gaming as the key to a healthy childhood. But it’s an extremely significant study that suggests exposure to gaming, even as much as over three hours a day, does not cause the harmful effects that are so often attributed.

The findings also suggest that over three hours a day in front of the TV puts your child in risk of a negative impact to their behaviour and wellbeing. That seems well worth taking on board for parents. And replacing some of that screen time with gaming instead isn’t a solution either. So, as ever, it’s moderation. Appropriate gaming is likely not harming your child, although the study acknowledges it does not reflect the effects of violent content. But taking them away from the screen to engage in other activities too seems, as ever, to be a recipe for a healthier childhood.


  1. Noburu says:

    Now I dont feel so bad letting my daughter play on the ipad instead of watching sponge bob.

    • Jonfon says:

      One of my favourite things to do is spy on my 6 year old and 3 year old playing Scribblenauts together on the iPad. They just use the sandbox mode to make up silly little stories together.

      They love it so much the only reason I got the last Humble Bundle was to get them Unlimited.

      • Ross Angus says:

        So cute! I kind of want to see a “Let’s Play” of Scribblenaughts, run by a bunch of kids now.

      • Reapy says:

        My almost 4 year old is getting is first exposure to spelling things himself with this, it’s great to see him recognize words we have already spelled in the history. I can’t say enough good things about this game for kids.

    • ViktorBerg says:

      My 7 year sister works the iPad and her phone like a champ, and yet she’s one of the most proactive and sociable kids in her class. I’d say the behavior of the child is much more reliant on good parenting, rather than the consumed media.

      • Ross Angus says:

        Not according to The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker: he says that the evidence seems to show that children develop their morality and social norms from their peers, not their parents.

        • rhubarb-crisp says:

          Judith Rich Harris’ The Nurture Assumption covers this topic. Though you won’t get anything more out of her book than you will out of Pinker ‘s quick summary of it. I think I ate up the Nurture Assumption in a night.

          Also, Steven Pinker is Sutter Cane.

        • Koozer says:

          I am 100% certain I learnt none of my morals from my school peers. Brrr, the very thought.

        • melnificent says:

          That sounds like a large steaming pile. Or I would’ve been smoking at 10, drinking at 12 and have a child by 15, while stealing cars from about 8-9 years old.
          Just because your in with a “bad crowd” doesn’t mean you have to be “bad” too.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Conversely, just because you learn “the right way” from your parents doesn’t mean you’re going to do it “the right way”.

          • njursten says:

            Your personal experience versus a study (I assume). Yeeeees.

          • tetracycloide says:

            Does ‘learning morality from’ necessarily mean ‘copying the morality of?’

        • SuicideKing says:

          In my case, it was a mix of both, really. Though i think i’ve been able to not follow the example of my peers or parents when i didn’t agree or it didn’t feel right, but i guess it’s still an active contribution from both parties.

          • callmeclean says:

            I don’t think parents necessarily influence your morals with what they say, however they generally control what sort of media you are exposed to and hence control how your morals develop through that. I have been lucky, my parents were a bit strict at a younger age with regards to school (no watching tv in the mornings etc) however when it was just free time they mostly allowed me to watch what I want, within reason. I remember watching the Simpsons and lots of various shows at a young age, but in I think this laid back approach became more important in my early teens as I was able to expose myself to a multitude of ideas because of the internet. Youtube was especially helpful because I could watch many debates between different views and then google things I didn’t know. Kids are by nature curious, and I think the most terrible thing a parent can do is stifle that curiosity, and the internet has probably been the best resource in allowing me to follow any leads I wanted and get a decently balanced view of the world.

  2. CookPassBabtridge says:

    So this explains it! Really, fundamentalist politicians want to scare us off doing something that’s fine, and get us doing something which genuinely does turn us into imbeciles :)

    • Mr Ogs says:

      Organised Religion has been doing this for centuries and nobody has noticed so far, guess the Government thoughts they’d have a go?

      • 00000 says:

        History lesson: Organized Religion and Government used to be two sides of the same coin. A state that wasn’t controlling it’s populous with lies and fear (for the sake of enlightenment, or whatever) has always been exception, not rule.

        • Lanfranc says:

          Advanced history lesson: History cannot be generalised into pithy one-liners.

          • The Random One says:

            Advanced politics lesson: Of course it can. 00000 just did it.

          • Heavenfall says:

            It can be done, just inaccurately. One might even go as far as to say misleading. But then, I haven’t read every possible one-liner so there may just be “the one” out there somewhere.

        • Mr Ogs says:

          Advanced Hindsight lesson: Of course yes, my original comment didn’t indicate that I was already aware of this. So apologies for making it seem I was new to the idea of an opiate for the masses.

        • Josh W says:

          All these lessons in so short a time! The future of education.

  3. I Got Pineapples says:

    I like to believe if we all work together, we can fix this. Even if we have to rig up something like that video from The Ring.

  4. Maxheadroom says:

    So you think the Daily Mail run a story on ‘this’ study?

    No, me either. “Video games: Not so bad after all” doesnt sell as many newspapers as “Mario Killed my Son” I guess

    • Gap Gen says:

      Do you think a quest for truth influences anything newspapers print? I know it’s trite, but I haven’t seen anything to suggest that the majority of newspapers in Britain do anything other than rewrite press releases and lie about current affairs to pander to the prejudices of their audiences.

    • lautalocos says:

      “scriblenauts caused terrorism”
      yes, that would sell.

  5. melnificent says:

    Cbeebies worse for children than Call of duty.

  6. Fenix says:

    I’ve always believed videogames (and other interactive media) are far superior than TV, and now there’s some actual proof, ha.

    I’m personally longing for the day where TV as we know it becomes obsolete.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      Even as a kid I assumed games were better for you because, unlike TV, they (usually) require brain-activity. I know that reality has a way of confounding “common sense,” but it seems obvious that gaming would be, at the very least, less harmful than TV.

      As for the morality issue, it’s silly to worry about gaming increasing violence when we live in a world of criminals, wars, government crackdowns, and drugs, all of which existed centuries before the industrial revolution. Comic books, pulp-novels, and rock music are all I have to say in response to that kind of nonsense.

  7. smokingkipper says:

    I have a couple of boys aged 4 and 6 year and they adore playing Minecraft together. It has helped to strengthen their bonds with each other.

    It is also amazing how quickly they learn and figure things out; working as a team, they have cracked a couple of the Lego games together. I cannot stress enough how much of a positive influence I believe games have been on their lives so far.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Sounds awesome. I have a brother 2 years younger than me and for as long as I can remember, until we got separate computers as teenagers, we shared computers and played every game together either taking turns on the same save or with separate ones. Games, especially adventure games, were social things at school too. There was no internet when I was a kid so unless you were lucky and your favorite games magazine (ST Action!) printed a guide, you could only rely on knowing someone else who played the game for help. I spent quite a few dull chemistry lessons theorizing on how to beat certain puzzles in certain games (you picked up the Monkey??!?!)

      • smokingkipper says:

        Ah man I was just the same with my brother who is 18 months younger than me. For us after moving from Amiga onto PC, it was PCZone. I can remember reading the review to a helicopter game called Hind over and over again, trying to imagine what it would be like to play when it finally arrived.

        Computer time was also limited. We shared our Amiga, playing Cannon Fodder, Chaos Engine and Sensi Soccer – and taking it in turns with our own different Champ Man save games.

        Ahhh, the old days :)))

    • Donkeyfumbler says:

      Maybe it’s because my sons (7, 9 and 11) have a PC each rather than sharing one, but I’ve found that while sometimes they play together quite happily on Minecraft, more often than not they fight horribly. Since the older ones discovered mods and multiplayer servers, it’s got worse but trying to persuade them to do other things or try other games falls on deaf ears.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Computer time was scarce for us when we were that young, and we didn’t have many games to choose from. We maybe got 3 or 4 new ones a year. So when it was one brother’s turn the other would watch and help. Often there were parts of games one of us could do but the other couldn’t and we’d help each other out in that way (usually it was me who sucked) and of course playing adventure games and RPGs was all about puzzle solving and one reason to prefer those games was that it mattered less who was at the controls. However, I did find I got a little more time on the computer when I wanted to do programming rather than play games, so that encouraged me… Damn those scheming parents, they manipulated me into a stable career.

        EDIT: The fighting was mostly not related to games :)
        EDIT: Although there was one time I changed his password on Unlimited Adventures forgot what I’d changed it to :( I spent ages trying to hack it to get it back, to no avail.

  8. Don Reba says:

    You are misrepresenting the findings. The study does not show there is no harmful impact. It shows there is no correlation, which is to say there is no linear relationship. But there could very well be another type of relationship. Or it might be that not all games have the same effect (shocking!).

    link to

    When a study finds a correlation between two things — that’s often interesting and worthy of reporting on; because it lets us say that if one thing increases by a certain amount, the other changes proportionally. But when a study does not find a correlation — that’s not interesting; it does not give us any such insight.

    Sort of like: “I found gold in my basement” (wow, the gold is in his basement!) vs. “I did not find gold in my basement” (we have not learned anything new about the gold).

    • AbyssUK says:

      This! Althought a little rough to say that John is misrepresenting, more misintrepretating I’d say.

      disclaimer: Haven’t read full report yet, when I have time I’ll have a crack.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      In the latter case haven’t we learned that the gold does not, exist? Or does that only apply to Gods?

    • Kitsunin says:

      But doesn’t a lack of correlation between A and B tell us that if you have more or less A you shouldn’t think B is more likely to be less or more? As apposed to being able to assume someone with more A also has more B?

      So, say a study finds that people who eat worms tend be stupider, then that tells us that if you see someone eating worms, they’re less likely to be as smart as the guy you never see eating any worms (It doesn’t tell us that it is because of the worms however, maybe it’s because the parents who give their kids stupid pills tell them to use worms to wash it down). Similarly, if a study cannot find evidence that people who eat worms tend to be stupider, doesn’t that tell us that we can’t make any assumptions about a person’s intelligence based on the fact that you saw them eating worms?

      • Don Reba says:

        But doesn’t a lack of correlation between A and B tell us that if you have more or less A you shouldn’t think B is more likely to be less or more? As apposed to being able to assume someone with more A also has more B?

        It tells us that if we have more or less A and we don’t know how big A is, then we can’t assume that B is more likely to be less or more. But if know what A is, then there are all sorts of non-linear relationships we could make use of. Something like: playing games is probably slightly bad for you, except if you keep it close to two hours a day. Just a completely made-up example.

        • Taharqa says:

          If you bothered to look at the report itself, you will see that the authors broke up video game and tv time into several categorical brackets that they put into the regression model using dummy variables. Thus, they did not assume a straight linear relationship between x and y, but allow it to vary, albeit in a “chunky” fashion. In fact, the point estimates do demonstrate a curvilinear relationship in which the lowest and highest amounts of video game time are associated with worse outcomes although none of the results are really statistically significant so its not worth getting excited about.

          You also seem to be making the classic naive frequentist argument that evidence in favor of the null hypothesis is not evidence for the null hypothesis. While this is true (I certainly teach it to my students), it is frequently misused in the manner that you are doing here. The null hypothesis is the “working assumption” if you can’t disprove it, then it remains your working assumption. So, John’s intuition is correct – we don’t have any evidence that games cause harm, so we stick with our working assumption that they don’t cause harm.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            I’m glad someone else caught that. It’s like when a conspiracy nut shouts “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!”

            Well, given enough examples of absolutely nothing and inconclusive at best, it certainly is suggestive….

          • Don Reba says:

            ¨The problem I have is John’s statement that the “study shows no harmful impact from gaming,” which is a much stronger statement than what is made by the study. “Study strengthens my suspicion that there is no harmful impact from gaming” would have been perfectly fine.

    • Merus says:

      I’d strongly disagree that it’s not worth reporting a lack of correlation. This is the kind of thinking that powers the ‘decline effect’, a phenomenon where unusual findings appear to grow weaker over time because only results that confirm the original findings are published, until enough time has passed that results that disagree are seen as interesting.

      • mechabuddha says:

        A thousand times this. Finding a lack of correlation is still information, and useful information at that. I hear the “no correlation = not useful” argument from the same people who say “what a waste of money, that study only told me what common sense already did”.

      • Don Reba says:

        Popular media does not report on research based on its scientific merit and scientific journals (ideally) do not reject papers for not being sufficiently newsworthy. Best to keep those separate.

    • LTK says:

      Then you’re missing the point of hypothesis-driven research. As the authors pointed out, there are reasons to believe that TV and video games have a negative effect on social behaviour, hyperactivity etc. That’s the hypothesis to be tested. (I’m not sure if this was their actual hypothesis but from what John wrote, that appears to be the case.) They then look at the actual correlation between the time spent watching TV and playing video games, and find that the correlation that they predicted is not there. That means the hypothesis “TV and video game time correlates negatively with social behaviour, hyperactivity etc.” is false. The lack of a correlation was definitely informative because it shows that what was thought about the effect of video games was false.

    • ComfortFit says:

      Good that someone here noticed this and mentioned it (if anyone wants to teach themselves biostatistics and find out why this isn’t necessarily ‘proof’ no correlation exists, read this link to

      My primary concern with the study here is the way the Cohort study was handled. Sending out anonymous questionnaires to parents isn’t exactly the best method in keeping up with developmental changes in children. Most of the parents are likely not qualified to notice any major changes, or if they did they could easily lie about it (and trust me, they do, I’ve worked with the CDC. It happens). I’d be more interested to see what happens to these children by the time they reach young-adulthood, that is when things like social anxiety and poor school performance really statistically begin to erupt. And of course it would be ideal if the researchers could do followups on those that responded to confirm what is being said.

      It is interesting results and I don’t doubt gaming has little effect on such young children, but its just extremely early to say it definitively for sure yet. There needs to be more studies and there needs to be lengthier ones as well.

      (Do note I am not saying videogames cause violence anywhere above, do not put words in my mouth. I don’t think such a statement is true, but actual proof of that is something I want to see.)

      • newprince says:

        This is so not true. Many of these behaviors and tendencies can be observed very young (5-7 years old), it’s just that it doesn’t become a DISORDER, and thus possible lifetime concern, until adolescence. The signs occur early, which is what makes it so crucial to discover as early as possible.

    • Longtime Listener says:

      A few things that really jump out at me reading the article.
      7 years old seems incredibly young to look for asocial/antisocial behaviour. I mean kids at that age are strictly observed at home, school and in public places. What exactly can a 7 year old get up to? Surely early to mid teens when they get some freedom is when meaningfully asocial behaviour will emerge?
      Where’s the baseline? Parents are being told to judge their own kids with no kind of external measure to compare their behaviour to. Not to mention parents aren’t exactly unbiased towards their kids.
      The Strength and Difficulties questionnaire has the same problem too. “My child fidgets a lot yes/no/maybe” how much is normal? We already have gross over prescription of ADHD treatment because medical professionals can’t decide the proper levels of child wiggles. So what chance does a parent have? All the questions are like this
      “My child copes well in new situations yes/no/maybe”
      How do they cope? Is burying your head in a game coping?
      “My child is kind to younger children yes/no/maybe”
      I’d be interested in what parent’s going to say their 7 year old is a sadistic baby slapper.
      “My child is bullied yes/no/maybe”
      As a child who was bullied at that age I can say I never told anyone. Because no one likes a narc dude.

      • newprince says:

        So, why all the anecdotal evidence and assumptions?

        I can throw anecdotal evidence out there, too, and it is very possible to identify antisocial or conduct disorders from a 7 year old. You don’t know it’s possible because you haven’t experienced it. Our 7 year old has the beginning stages of a conduct disorder, and it’s terrible and real (he’s punched his mother HARD in the face several times, and will not obey commands despite negative consequences, punishment, rewards, etc.). It won’t become a ‘disorder’ until he is a teenager, but that makes it all the more important to try to get him help now while he is still developing.

        Of course parents are biased, but you are not correct to simply assume parents can’t see past the unconditional love to their problems. Parents can see when a crisis or overwhelming issue becomes real. A lot of these issues are obvious, and caretakers, teachers, etc. will take note of it early on.

        Also, just because there’s over diagnosis of ADHD does NOT mean it is normal to have abnormal behaviors.

        Lastly, all 7 year olds don’t act like you did.

    • DanMan says:

      Unless everyone was assuming the gold IS in the basement. Then the insight of it not being in the basement is significant.

  9. melnificent says:

    My 9 year old has grown up with technology. She had a DS at 3 to help with her literacy and numeracy as she didn’t like to use any drawing equipment at all. Starting with a few games and educational things such as the picturebook series. Within a few days she was writing a few letters on screen. A month later, her name and from there things really took off.

    When she was 4 I was working in a PC shop at the time and she would frequently help to replace broken components on PCs. Knowing the names and types of all components as well as how to replace them herself (if she had the strength). Oh, and knew some of the POST beep errors too.

    At 6 she wanted a netbook, and saved the money herself. Technology was the driving factor in her understanding of money. In 8 months she had saved up half the money.
    She’s very tech orientated, has a laptop instead of a netbook now for minecraft and her own private internet access. Recently I setup her own steam account so I can add bundle games that are appropriate for her age.

    Without that initial technological help she might still be struggling to read and write. Instead, it has only added to her abilities not taken away. She’s top of her class and has been since she started formal education. On the school council, and is able to understand everything and help in most situations.

    • Viroso says:

      I don’t like to blame games, it was definitely on me, but when I was younger playing video games definitely took over my studying time. My parents tried, I’d play hiding or I’d just keep thinking about video games when I was supposed to be studying. I think if I didn’t have something as awesome as games I’d probably not be so distracted.

      But at the same time video games were very important in teaching me English, most of my English was learned through video games and so far knowing English has been the cornerstone of almost every job I’ve taken. Knowing English has been as important or more so than all of the education I’ve received.

  10. iamgenestarwind says:

    not to be rude but this topic has been covered to death, 15-20 years ago sometime before arnold schwarzenegger took a crack at the subject not too sure of what year it was, a senator tryed to ban video games saying it was because he wanted to help kids
    a video gaming magizine talked to him about it asking him where is the prove that video games increase or cause people to be violent ? and he said oh i am sure i can find lots of doctors and psychologists
    this answer puzzled the person asking the questions and so the people in the gaming magizine taked to doctors and psychologists and even quoted a kid psychologist later on
    the doctors agreed with each others so far there is no proof that video games increase violentice in people
    even now doctors have told us there is no proof that watching violent movies, playing video games or listening
    to heavy metal music ever makes people more violent
    yes some people have played video games or watched violent movies and then killed people but if they didnt watch movies or played video games they still would have killed people
    the two actions have nothing to do with each other

    • Stardreamer says:

      Not to be rude either but the reason we need to keep hammering away at this issue is because while all sensible people may be able to understand the intellectual difference between “Gaming causes violence!!!!” and “person with serious psychological problems commits violence, has also been known to play videogames”, there is still a HUGE problem getting the media and our political classes to make that distinction, to get them to stop trying to demonise video games every time someone goes on a gun-murder spree.

      Check the ‘gaming violence’ tag under the article for a list of recent newspaper articles pointing the finger at games, and John politely stamping on them.

      • mouton says:

        ^ this

        Just because a relatively narrow group got it right, doesn’t mean the society at large does. Why should we care? Well, the society has no problem banning, restricting, blaming things they don’t understand.

  11. Mikular says:

    Just got in from a lecture at the University of Glasgow. This is somewhat strange.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Surprised me too as Glasgow is my hometown. I wonder if they’ve done a similar study on the effects of Buckfast consumption.

      • SuicideKing says:

        I used to live in Glasgow when i was 5.

        Three Glasgow coincidences. HL3 confirmed.

  12. HadToLogin says:

    Question: were those games PEGI 3+, or Manhunt?

    Anyway, funny to read all those “study shows games are bad – science sucks” while “study shows games are good – science rules” :P .
    Especially when everything can be good and bad – books “cause” violence, sports “cause” violence, TV “cause” violence, so why games can’t “cause” violence (cause in quotation marks, as it’s people who cause violence, but sometimes various media can help them… “discover” their violent tendencies).

    • John Walker says:

      I don’t do anything of the sort. But from your opening question, I can only assuming you haven’t quite finished reading it yet. When studies have genuinely sucked, I’ve pointed it out. When studies have shown positive effects from gamings, I’ve equally questioned their findings:

      link to

      This study appeared very rigorous, but despite that I raise a number of reasons why their results may not be entirely meaningful, and entirely play down the way others have reported the story.

      • HadToLogin says:

        It wasn’t “critique” towards you, but about general Internet comments.

        In a same way, if this would be written in The Sun, then there would be comments “bull…, everybody knows Hitler played Wolfenstein and he liked it so much he created Nazis”.

        • mouton says:

          If I was Hitler and played Wolfenstein, I would totally create the Nazis, just to get a power armor with dual miniguns.

      • Longtime Listener says:

        but despite that I raise a number of reasons why their results may not be entirely meaningful, and entirely play down the way others have reported the story.

        Apart from your Daily Mail like headline.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      Ideas, typically stupid ones, cause violence when put into action. You can’t guard against ideas, at least not with the outright censorship that’s lamely threatened by western governments every time a parent advocacy group gets noisy. You’re right that gaming is no different from those other forms of media, at least not in this context, but you can clearly see that books and sports do not actually *cause* violence either.

      Where do you draw the line of what is dangerous and safe? Where do you draw the line between parental responsibility and government oversight? If book and film censorship are almost universally despised in Western Countries, why is gaming censorship even considered?

      These are real questions because I don’t believe any one person (or one group of people) has the answers to them. Perhaps we should start thinking about them instead of arguing over the same inconclusive findings, year after year.

      I certainly don’t want to have to “defend” my hobby of choice well into my thirties or forties. No offense to John Walker, but fuck that shit.

      • Lone Gunman says:

        “If book and film censorship are almost universally despised in Western Countries, why is gaming censorship even considered?”

        Probably because most of those who make the rules don’t really understand games.

      • harbinger says:

        Except when it has something even tangentially to do with feminism or what could by one in a hundred thousand people be considered as racism, then John and his colleagues are the first on the battlements asking for their very own Comics Code Authority or Motion Picture Productions Code period for video games instead of your parent advocacy group (see Hotline Miami 2, Skullgirls, Stanley Parable, Shank, Dragon’s Crown etc.) and even if the game is 18+ and meant for adults only they’ll still claim they will know better than its creators and potential audience.
        link to
        link to

  13. Viroso says:

    Once I was playing God of War 3 with my cousin, he was 10 or something, and we got to that scene where Kratos crushes Poseidon’s eyes. Now, I had played God of War with him when he was even younger, and even The Warriors. I know I’m a terrible cousin, or an awesome one depends on who you’re asking.

    Anyway, we got to that scene and then he suddenly turns his face at my in surprise and then like, scratches his eyes. That one time I think the game really scared him. Today he plays CoD and apparently the other day his CoD time was suspended over his bad Internet behavior. It’s all my fault.

    Still, the worst thing I’ve done was playing single player games and handing him the second controller, telling him we were playing together. It works really well on younger kids, I must’ve done it with most of my younger cousins. Age old trick, was even used on me once.

  14. JamesTheNumberless says:

    I think gaming when you’re that young has a definite anti-social effect. Every time I’m at a party and I bring up the the fact that I was programming my Spectrum when I was 6 years old, people tend to stop talking to me.

    • melnificent says:

      Well it was the spectrum… If it was the commodore 64 on the other hand ;)

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Only rich kids had those. We initially only had a 48k Speccy and had to wait for the single black & white telly to be available in order to use it… cold gravel… cardboard box.. etc

        • melnificent says:

          I’ve just come into possession of a speccy since missing out on it in my childhood (vic-20->c64->286). Any recommended games?

          • Jonfon says:

            Feud, Jet Set Willie, Chuckie Egg (1 & 2) and any of the “Magic Knight” series (Finders Keeper, Knight Tyme etc). Oh, and Head Over Heels and any of the Gollop games (Chaos, Laser Squad, Lords of Chaos)

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Add to that: The Great Escape, Cyclone, Scuba Diver, Skool Daze, Football Manager, Knight Lore, The Hobbit, Lords of Midnight… I’ve probably forgotten tons.

            Also, I’m not sure which games were Speccy exclusives, I’d have thought almost everything was better on the C64 much in the way that all Atari ST games (except Dungeon Master) were better on the Amiga… I grew up with a Speccy and an ST :) As soon as I had money of my own I bought an Amiga!

            Don’t play Rupert and the Ice Castle, Monty Mole, or Spiky Harold. You’ll want to throw your Speccy out of the window in frustration… In fact, stear clear of platformers entirely.

          • Nick says:

            I second Chuckie Egg (never played 2), Head over Heels and the Magic Knight games, all great! (Amstrad CPC here..)

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Also, WHOA!

            You have an actual Spectrum? Is it the 48k one with the rubber keys or the Amstrad version with the plastic keys? Or the 128 /+2/+3 ?

            For the record, we had the original 48k, then the 128 +2

            If I had one today I wouldn’t play it, I’d have it framed and mounted :)

          • Nick says:

            Also Roland in Time was fun, if only for the nonlinear Dr.Who method of going between levels.

          • Niko says:

            Check out Myth: History in the Making and Rex. They both are marvels of small-scale graphics and animation, and the gameplay is quite good, too.

          • melnificent says:

            Thanks all, I played some of those (head over heels, chuckie egg) on the C64. I’ll be sure to check out the others.

            Yes, an actual spectrum 48k. My friend was having a clearout so saved it for me. Now I have no idea what I’m doing and had to google the spectrum version of load”*”,8,1
            It looks impressive on the 42″ too

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Its all about ZAXXON, frankly

    • Ricc says:

      To me there is a big difference between “transformative” media (works that can change the way I think, open up new perspectives, etc.) and those that desensitize me to certain issues or just dull the senses through repetition. The first one is generally what we want to achieve as creators, while the later one should be condemned.

      edit: comment was meant as a response to the one from dE, below. Sorry, my bad.

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      Hah hah, more like Autism Spectrum, am i right

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Nah Aspergers wasn’t fully invented until 91, back then if you acted like a dick, you were just a dick.

        • Niko says:

          And if you couldn’t spell, you were just lazy, and way before that, if you had an epileptic seizure, you were possessed by a demon.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            The difference between phrenology and psychiatry is that the latter is easier for practitioners to benefit from financially. I mean, there are only so many people you can send to the workhouses but there is infinite capacity to sell counselling and medication.

    • Reapy says:

      Correction, doing something off the social norm has a negative impact on socialization. When you are young it is hard enough as kids ( and older people) recoil whenever they see something outside of their experience. This is why sticking to mass consumed hobbies is safe, chances are the other person gets it.

      A decade or two back in time, hardly anybody knew wtf a computer was, so we get these wtf are you talking about looks. Enough of those at a young age it is easy to start to feel alienated or outcast from others and develop all sorts of detrimental social behaviors.

      I’d say that is why the first wave of gamers/CPU users probably have all sorts of measurable social quirks, it was not an easy hobby to have at school.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        I was joking about of course, because nobody wants to talk to someone who goes on about his own achievements, whatever those are. But I think you’re quite right. For today’s kids and even some of today’s adults, being into games has little social stigma. You’re more likely to be uncool now if you’re not a competent computer user. However peer pressure is no less great and today’s kids with their social and computer lives published on the internet will mostly play the games that their peers have approved.

  15. dE says:

    I find this idea quite odd. The longer this “violent videogames” thing goes on, the more I’m inclined to agree. Don’t we want games to have any influence on people? All the talk about meaningful stories, about Agency and purpose, about games that move us, make us think and re-evaluate values. Isn’t that THE argument for games like Gone Home or Dear Esther? One of the best series on RPS is “Gaming made me”, about how gaming influenced peoples lifes and behavior and made them who they are?
    Yet we celebrate every study that shows that games have no influence, no sir, no. Why? Well, part defense mechanism but… well, why? This is at odds with everyday gaming experience and denying the stronger parts of gaming. Games do influence us, in experiences, in feelings, in Sexism, in competition, in interaction but naturally not in violence. Games magically stop influencing at that point, or so we want to make believe.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      Well put.

    • Viroso says:

      It’s a different kind of influence. One is unintentional, automatic, sneaking. The kind of influence that supposedly changes a person’s behavior for the worse just by exposure. The other is by participating with the game, seeing what it has to say, thinking about it. It’s more conscious and we accept that it depends on each person to take something away from it, we don’t think it’ll necessarily change someone’s behavior just by exposure.

      I do think video games have an influence on people’s behavior in that automatic way, but I think it has a lot more to do with the mechanics, and how the game makes you work your brain, than it has to do with the aesthetic part. For an instance, playing a shooter a lot has got to do something to someone’s reflexes, even if just in the realm of video games, but I think whether you’re shooting faces or carrots doesn’t mean much.

      Lastly I also think games can have an influence when it is an echo chamber for existing ideas. I think a game can reinforce an idea, and so make people think it’s normal, or challenge it. In this case I don’t think a single game will have a big influence, but at the same time this is the kind of situation where violence in games definitely means something.

      So like, to sum up, I don’t think it’s going to brainwash anyone.

    • Stardreamer says:

      “Influence” is the wrong word. Of course violent videogames can, and do, “influence” gamers all the time. Exhilaration, adrenaline, repugnance, delight…and so on. A clearer definition of the subject matter is that there is no evidence that videogames containing ultra-violent subject matter (“Ultra-violent” defined here as one agent causing severe physical harm or death to another directly or by use of weapons) and/or mechanics directly cause or generate ultra-violent behavior in those that play them, no matter the duration of exposure. They may act as triggers or be used as wish-fulfillment fantasies by those with pre-existing tendencies towards violence but then the same can be said of just about anything that individual is likely to encounter, and certainly no more than other forms of media like television.

      To claim that a violent videogame should be devoid of “influence” is nonsensical. Doom influenced tens of millions of people, in many ways. I’ll wager there’s not one scrap of evidence to suggest it generated violent behaviours in a player, other than the usual, mild forms expressing frustration at a lack of skill and/or progress.

    • newprince says:

      That’s pretty silly. You characterize the mind as if it’s a machine, all influence being equal. It’s not.

      When things occur in games that defy reality or convey unpleasant realities in the game, we don’t suddenly lose our minds or believe the impossible. We are beings capable of abstract reasoning and can put things into context and perspective. In that way, games can influence us and have profound effects on our lives, but sometimes the game’s content that set it off is quite accidental.

      The violent stuff just doesn’t affect us the same way because it’s lazy and easy, and a little abhorrent to our nature. It’s a guilty pleasure, it can be cathartic, but there’s an obvious disconnect between simulated and real violence. There’s no victim; you are an innocent aggressor and there is usually no negative repercussions. We can play with these ideas; try to introduce consequences to ultraviolence or make the player the victim. But it never even comes close to the brutal reality of actual violence. On the other hand, someone can play Ico or merely react to an art style with tremendous amounts of emotion. Human beings are weird like that.

      • dE says:

        You characterize the mind as if it’s a machine, all influence being equal. It’s not.

        Is it make up stuff day on RPS? I’ve said nothing of the sorts. I’d go as far as to call it a Strawman, since you’re arguing against what you’ve created yourself. Did I piss people off with my comment? The reactions are rather strong, if they’ve got to reach for fallacies to argue.

        Anyways, here’s some food for thought:

        Why does Propaganda work?
        Why is there a game called Americas Army?
        Why do advertisements work?

        The answer includes things like: the brain really isn’t that great at filtering out information, if it’s packaged in a way it can digest easily. Games are easily digested and even if the violence is abstracted, the subject matter is not. The idiotic torture scene in GTA5 isn’t just graphic violence. Shooting “brown dudes” because you’re “defending freedom” isn’t just a backdrop for the scenery, it’s politically motivated. The “dude-bro, the army is fricking cool” style of military shooters isn’t just for laughs either. People being detached from the violence, isn’t a sign of the violence just being abstract, but a coping mechanism. Hearing very real Apache Gunship Pilots joke about scoring tables and celebrating headshots is an indicator. Seeing soldiers posing shakespeare with real skulls, is a coping mechanism. To cope with the violence, it gets detached.

        And well, if you’re absolutely right and I’m not, you go and enjoy future wars. Drones should be a real blast if people absolutely don’t make an emotional connection with the violence on screen.

        • newprince says:

          The things you point to, the brofests and killing brown people for God and country thing. That of course is present in video games. You call it propoganda. For who? I honestly think apolitical, disengaged young people buy into the US myth without the aid of a video game. It’s so on the nose and obvious that anyone with an ounce of intelligence realizes it may be a fun but mindless exercise.

          Restating my earlier argument, influences are not created equal.

          • Longtime Listener says:

            No. America’s Army is literally propaganda. It’s funded by the US government and given out for free to try and draw young men into the army. It is straight up propaganda.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            To be fair, most government funded things aimed at engaging youngsters fail to have a significant cultural impact. Ignoring things which are effectively compulsory (Hitler Youth, etc) sure there will be some people who enjoy America’s Army and then go on to join the armed forces but I bet most don’t. I was an RAF cadet for a couple of years when I was a teenager and enjoyed the opportunity to fire guns, fly planes and march about in the freezing cold, but never confused this with actually being in the air force.

    • harbinger says:

      Yes I know, RPGs shouldn’t contain any negative human traits in them at all and shouldn’t depict conflict in any way that might make someone feel uncomfortable and they’re trying to normalize and idealize genocide and ethnic cleansing: link to

      Counter point: Just because someone is writing [about] something or depicting it in a work, doesn’t mean the writer is condoning and glamorizing it, often it can be quite the contrary, and Obsidians Josh Sawyer also put this very well: link to

      • dE says:

        So… first you screenshot one of my posts for whatever reason, it’s hardly relevant in this discussion and the idea that someone collects screenshots of what I write is more than a little creepy. And second you bring the “don’t bring politics into my games” argument… which too isn’t exactly relevant to what I wrote on this article here.

        • harbinger says:

          Oh I think it is very relevant to recontextualize your statement with your belief that displaying a feud between dwarfs and elves in fantasy settings and games is supporting racism and killing orcs or similar idealizes genocide and ethnic cleansing.
          Or how Magic the Gathering is trying to make some sort of political statement about black/white/red with the colors they chose for their factions.

          Rhetorically I don’t think you are very far away from the people saying D&D is for Satanists because it has demons and stuff in it and Rock & Roll is the devils music.

  16. Drake Sigar says:

    Well, I’m a little surprised. Of course I don’t believe a word the mainstream media spouts on the subject of gaming, otherwise most of the people reading my post and indeed this site would be violent offenders (D&D players, gamers, comic book readers, Harry Potter fans, it’s actually kinda funny how the most docile and harmless demographic keeps getting picked on for this). Still, I thought there would be some tangible effect at such a young age.

    The rating system is a decent guideline, but parents really have to get involved and decide for themselves what is and isn’t appropriate for their own children. Watch the TV programmes and play the games beforehand. I know it’s hard but controlling the content your child is exposed to is an important part of parenthood.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      To be fair, D&D actually did turn out to be Satanic, RPG mechanics have been struggling to break free of hitpoint systems ever since.

      • Jonfon says:

        “Get behind me, THACO! You are a stumbling block to me.”

      • mouton says:

        RPG mechanics never struggled, complacency quickly settled in and barely anyone wants any change.

        I liked the system in an old Star Wars RPG – you could have been: healthy / wounded / incapacitated / dead.

        • The Crane says:

          The old West End games Star Wars RPG? I started running a campaign of that at the weekend! The rules are loose in the most fun possible way :)

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          It’s not so much the mechanic as the implementation of it and the way it usually goes in most AD&D campaigns. A good DM can creatively incorporate hitpoints and avoid situations where hitpoint heavy creatures stand and hit eachother with toothpicks for hours on end. I’ve always preferred low level campaigns in AD&D for this reason. It’s amplified to a ridiculous extent though in computer RPGs, especially Japanese ones. Sometimes I wonder if people would just rather play a game where you have to empty a large vat with a teaspoon. Also the endless rebalancing of damage vs hitpoints via loot and levelling that goes on in most RPGs in lieu of…. well… anything else really…. is my pet peeve in CRPGs.

  17. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    Yeah, lol, as if.

  18. fish99 says:

    The games they’re playing at that age wouldn’t be violent anyway. Ideally you’d want to see all age groups tested, even into adulthood and over a longer period, and records of what kind of games they’re playing. Then you might have some more useful info.

    It’s should be pretty obvious to anyone that’s grown up during the video game age that violent games do not make a well balanced child turn to violence, but they may have more subtle effects which show up in kids who already have issues. I don’t know one way or the other, but this study doesn’t answer that question.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I don’t know, Manic Miner was pretty brutal, it has a little man being crushed by a giant boot, and telephones that could kill you!

      Even now I can’t listen to Grieg without horrible flashbacks to The Menagerie.

  19. bill says:

    My main worry about my kid getting into gaming at a young age (3) is that once they start, they won’t want to do anything else.
    For kids particularly, the interactivity and general shininess of tv and games is hugely attractive. I know how absorbed I have become in game worlds over the years, and I worry that once they start on minecraft/scribblenauts/whatever they won’t be interested in lego or dolls anymore. It’ll just be “daddy, can I play the game??? please???” all the time.

    I don’t feel that games would be a negative influence in themselves, infact the contrary. But I worry that they’d overwhelm everything else.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      I had games from about 4 and from about 4 they were my favourite thing to do. However I also had loads of other toys and found physical toys entertaining in ways that computer games weren’t. Kids are creative and imaginitive and even games like Minecraft are limited compared to what you can do with other forms of play, including just having a wad of paper and a pencil.

    • newprince says:

      My kid is obsessed with video games, and does ask constantly to play during the week (we only allow video games on weekends, sometimes iPad on weekdays for good behavior). He still is obsessed with LEGOS and his cars, though. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Kids like variety and get bored with too much of the same thing.

  20. SuicideKing says:

    When i was three or four, my neighbour had a PC, I used to play a Seseme Street game with her.

    When i was 5, we got a PC, and the only games i played myself were Need For Speed II SE and F/A-18 Korea…and i think that’s it. By the time i was 7, i was brave enough to play Incoming, FreeSpace 2, Quake II and a bit of Tomb Raider II…but mostly used to sit in Dad’s lap and watch him play.

    And get virtual air-sickness when he went above the clouds in F/A-18 Korea.

    Negative effect to this day: None, probably. I’ve seen people turn out worse in some ways who’ve not even played games to this day, at least not beyond Angry Birds type stuff.

    (Heck, Angry Birds is violent!)

  21. rockman29 says:

    It is nice they did this study. The sample size is very large and on the surface it seems robust and forward thinking, to separate game playing time and TV watching time, which is very good.

    And it’s great they analyzed against possible confounding variables with regressions and so on.

    The major problem with studies like this was mentioned in the article though:

    “Of course, another factor the study can’t measure for is whether it’s actually what takes place when a child is not in front of a screen that accounts for a positive impact on their lives. Perhaps rather than three hours plus of TV directly causing problems, it’s the activities that replace screen time that actively prevent them?”

    This is the most difficult part to assess. Many of these psych studies, especially ones watching so many subjects for this long a period, are not watching them at every hour of every day, though I’m sure they have things like diaries which parents and testers are meant to record in regularly.

    That is not to say that the study is “wrong” per se, but it’s probably not the whole story. But the information itself is good.

    It is also probably hard to include studies like these in meta-analysis, because the methods may vary too much (like let’s say this is the only study that differentiates enough between game playing and TV watching). Though review articles which gather multiple studies to assess these topics in meta-analysis are still a good thing and can at least offer some perspective on why results between studies may differ or not.

    Again, as always, with polarized topics like these I would definitely recommend to stay on the side of caution and keep watching the space for more information and updates. Even in medicine, there are always studies that come out regularly which claim aspirin daily use benefits outweigh the risks, and then another study comes out and says it doesn’t. Some of these things enter amazingly deep grey zones is all.

  22. realitysconcierge says:

    I wonder if this study will have any effect on social learning theory?

  23. MobileAssaultDuck says:

    The following is, admittedly, entirely anecdotal.

    I am 30 years old. I saw Child’s Play the year it was released. That would be at the age of 5, for anyone not good with math.

    This sort of defines my life. My parents never censored anything from me. I saw the goriest horror and action films alongside my parents, I saw graphic sex scenes, I was given access to sexually explicit and violent games from the moment I owned a console and PC. I got into violent music very early. My life has been bathed in virtual and fictional gore, blood, and sex.

    Real gore turns my stomach. I find sex scenes in most fiction unnecessary and terribly executed. My taste in porn has become less exploitative as I age, not more.

    Now, do I love fake gore? Yes. I love fake violence and virtual gore. I think it makes everything better.

    Am I violent? Nope. I actually avoid conflict to a fault. Do I become overly aggressive when challenged? Nope. Do I have a hard time become intimate unless the sex is disgusting and violent? Nope, just the opposite, I find exploitative sex a big turn off. Things like throat fucking and anal just aren’t my thing. I want the female to enjoy the sex as much as I do.

    Now, if ONE human being can grow up absolutely soaked in fictional sex and gore and turn out like me, then obviously the fictional gore and sex isn’t the problem.

    From a very young age I understood the divide between fiction and reality. I understood the divide between what was acceptable language around teachers and other adults, and what was acceptable language amongst my peers and my own family. I knew saying “fuck” in front of my 2nd grade teacher was a bad idea and I rarely slipped up. I knew stories I wrote as a child were not acceptable places to have sex and extreme violence.

    I figured this shit out before I was a decade old.

    So, either I’m the anomaly or the kids who do fucked up shit are. Considering the low number o kids who do fucked up shit, I would say it is likely they are the anomaly.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      Just one thought, offered respectfully: There’s no reason to call anal sex inherently “disgusting” or “exploitative.” It’s not my thing, but I can imagine how that would sound to anyone (woman or man) who genuinely enjoys it. Anyway, carry on!

      • Lone Gunman says:

        But what if you like being dominated in that department?


      • MobileAssaultDuck says:

        While I have known woman who honestly enjoy it, from casual discussions with males of the alpha-beta paradigm, it seems many males enjoy the idea of anal, throat fucking, fisting, etc because it causes the female discomfort.

        Many pornographic films which focus on these activities focus on the female crying or feeling pain, the tears running down their face, the gagging noises, etc.

        It’s one of those situations where some women do indeed like it, but many men’s enjoyment is entirely related to the degradation of females that it represents.

        Similarly, I have met one female who enjoys being peed on, but every person I have met who enjoys doing the peeing seems to get off on the degradation. She even told me that the fact she enjoys it has lead to her having a hard time finding people willing to do it because her enjoyment of being peed on kills their enjoyment of peeing on her.

        • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

          “It’s one of those situations where some women do indeed like it, but many men’s enjoyment is entirely related to the degradation of females that it represents.”

          And that’s worth noting. But many other men’s enjoyment is entirely related to it being something their partner enjoys, or to their partner not having a vagina, or to just liking assholes for whatever reason, or to probably dozens of other reasons.

          There are also people, (men, women, whatever), who genuinely, in total empowerment and emotional health, enjoy being dominated during sex, some just occasionally, some exclusively. It’s perfectly possible for two (three, four, whatever) people to do this kind of role-playing in a respectful manner.

          But yeah, it’s really, really important for people – men especially – to seriously think about consent and power and exploitation, and how desires are constructed by power dynamics outside the bedroom (dungeon, phone booth, whatever). But I’m not sure the way to encourage that is by throwing a blanket of shame over certain kinks.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Basically what you mean is that, even as a kid, you were capable of drawing boundaries. I think this is the case for most people. I watched Robocop with my parents when I was about 9 or 10 and a few scenes got fast-forwarded, Morton’s assassination (because of semi-naked ladies and drugs) and the toxic waste scene (not pleasant viewing at any age) being the ones I remember missing. But the vast majority of the violence and “bad language was” absorbed directly into my fragile little mind.

      And look how I turned out, perfectly fine. Sure there was that one time I built a killer robot and sent it off on a rampage in downtown Detroit but otherwise my behavior at school was…. Really boring. I only ever got into trouble for talking too much (mostly about games) when I was sitting with my friends.

      As a young adult I worked a bit with kids as a volunteer and my crude observation about the ones who were trouble, was the lack of structure they had in their family and school lives (absent/disinterested/abusive parents and inner city schools unable to cope). Without structure you can’t have boundaries. It leads me to the belief that anyone who watches a violent film and then experiments with violence as a result, probably already has a problem with boundaries in general.

  24. Heliocentric says:

    I’m very suspicious of this study. I will read further on this. My first reaction? My kids sat at home playing LEGO Marvel Super Heroes together are safer than my neighbours kids who are playing football, in the dark, unsupervised, on wet roads.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      I miss being a kid in the 90s and playing outside till the street lights came on, and then going inside to play video games till my brain fell out.

      Isn’t this world big enough for more than one kind of play?

      • Rukumouru says:

        Undoubtedly. But as a kid who grew up in the early nineties, I just didn’t (and still don’t) enjoy the “socially acceptable” types of play.