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Effect of Video Game Violence on Children Playing with Real Guns

A Randomized Clinical Trial

With more and more children being injured or killed with guns in the home, concern over the possible contribution of violent video games to these tragedies has increased. A recent JAMA network article examines the role violent video games may play in children’s behavior with real guns.

The article, "Effect of Exposure to Gun Violence in Video Games on Children’s Dangerous Behavior With Real Guns," by Justin H. Chang, MA, and Brad J. Bushman, PhD, examines the results of a randomized clinical trial of 242 children, aged 8 to 12 years. Each child played one of three video games: one with gun violence, another with sword violence, or another with no violence. Following the game, the children were observed, playing in a room where real, disarmed guns were present.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Study results showed playing violent video games increased children’s aggressive play with real guns. Main outcomes were touching a handgun, seconds spent holding a handgun, and number of trigger pulls, including at oneself or the partner. Control variables included sex, age, trait aggressiveness, exposure to violent media, attitudes toward guns, presence of firearms in the home, interest in firearms, and whether the child had taken a firearm safety course.

Read the full article from the JAMA Network.

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