Video Games Increase Violent Tendencies? An Unorthodox Experiment Suggesting the Contrary

I came across an interesting episode of Bullshit! (Penn and Teller, 2009) regarding video game violence. It's an age old topic in psychology and is very politically charged. Most research tends to be correlational, for example showing that as children play more games you are more likely to commit violent acts in the real world. So the general concern is that children as young as nine who play Call of Duty are going to turn into killing machines if given real weapons. So what happens if you give a nine-year-old who spends many hours of his day playing Call of Duty the chance to shoot a real gun? Something quite shocking happens actually (watch until the very end, I won't spoil it).

Penn and Teller are not bound by the ethical code psychologists must follow. They are therefore allowed to have a nine-year-old shoot a real rifle with real bullets on TV under the supervision of a weapon specialist. I don't see anything like this getting past a university ethics committee, but I'm sure the mother gave consent. I won't spoil what happened, but this is one powerful way to show that any concerns about young violent video gamers actually gun toting given the opportunity is ill-conceived, and as far as I'm aware this is the first piece of evidence of its kind. Despite its many flaws this mini experiment certainly makes its point.

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