New report on Video Games and Juvenile Offenders

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Photo by Rebecca Pollard

Photo by Rebecca Pollard

study recently published in the journal Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice argues that there may be a link between violent video games and aggressive juvenile behavior.

The study analyzed the video game playing behaviors of more than 200 young men and women involved in Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system. According to the report, inclinations towards more violent games, as well as frequency of playing video games in general, may be factors in both delinquent and violent behavior among young people.

According to the researchers of the report, the study is the first of its kind to measure the relationship between juveniles adjudicated with serious offenses and violent video game exposure.

“Violent video game playing is one of dozens or perhaps hundreds of risk factors that kids can have that is associated with delinquency and violence,” Radio Iowa quotes Iowa State University researcher Matt DeLisi. “What’s really compelling with the current study is that it withstands all of these other effects we know matter.”

Young people with preexisting psychopathological conditions, researchers say, may be much more susceptible to the “deleterious” effects of violent games, with DeLisi claiming that video games may have a generally detrimental effect on the sociability of teens and adolescents.

“If you have a kid who is antisocial, who is a little bit vulnerable to influence,” he is quoted by Radio Iowa, “giving them something that allows them to escape into themselves for a long period of time isn’t a healthy thing.”

One thought on “New report on Video Games and Juvenile Offenders

  1. As a clinician and researcher, I’m disappointed in the reporting of this article. The results reported here are methodologically weak, statistically problematic, and incompletely reported. The sample is cross-sectional, entirely based on self-report, and self-selected into the study. The measures are OK, but it should be noted that the system used to code violent game use is only used by the authors of the present study, and may not generalize well.

    The negative binomial regression is hindered in the mistreatment of violent game data as continuous rather than categorical, resulting in a beta value that cannot be meaningfully interpreted. The regression also contains a huge set of nonsignificant variables which confound the model; this is particularly notable as the reportedly powerful covariates failed to reach significance, which may reflect a problem with the sample or measures given the robustness of prior findings. Multicollinearity is entirely unaddressed, which may also account for some of the unusual findings.

    Finally, no R-Square values are reported, so we have no reference for the degree to which these findings meaningfully account for variability in delinquency outcomes. This is important, as these findings may reach statistical significance without having any practical significance.

    In short, this article doesn’t tell us anything useful about the relationship between delinquency and violent games. With significant methodological and statistical improvement, it could. JJIE is usually a pretty good source, but perhaps you should exercise greater caution in interpreting findings published in a low-indexed journal and authored by the associate editor of that journal. We need good science and critical reporting to guide policy.