Study: Repeated Exposure to Violent Video Games and Movies Can Harm People

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Bad news for gamers and violent film fans who choose to believe fictional violence can't influence real life.

Aggression levels increase when individuals are exposed to violent films, television programming and video games according to a report published in the journal Aggressive Behaviour.

The International Society for Research on Aggression (IRSA) reports that violent imagery, whether it be verbal or physical, may trigger stored thoughts or emotions in a person.

Led by Craig Anderson, the IRSA claims that triggering stored thoughts or emotions a single time will not cause major behavioral changes. Rather, when triggered multiple times due to repeated exposure to media violence, the easily accessible thoughts or emotions may cause a change in behavior.

The group also suggests that the ratings system is no longer a proper guide when making purchases. Parents should initiate open ended discussions with their children about the violent content films and video games contain, promoting critical thinking.

The report does not focus on restricting access to media, instead aiming to improve the rating system and promote media literacy education in public schools.

In the Daily Mail, Anderson said, “Improving media ratings really has two pieces. One is that the media ratings themselves need to be done by an independent entity - meaning, not by an industry-influenced or controlled system.”

The report hopes to provide valuable information to child advocacy groups, particularly parenting organizations.