Video Games and Aggression in Children

Joel Cooper, Diane Mackie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


This study examined the effect of playing an aggressive or nonaggressive video game on fifth‐graders' free play. Twenty‐two pairs of boys and 20 pairs of girls were randomly assigned to one of three conditions. One of the children in each pair played a video game rated by peers as aggressive, a video game with little aggression, or a non‐video maze‐solving game for 8 minutes. The other child watched. Each child was then left individually to engage in free play in a separate room for 8 minutes, and also given the opportunity to deliver rewards and punishments to another child. The results were similar for both players and observers. Girls evidenced significantly more general activity and aggressive free play after playing the aggressive video game. Girls' activity decreased and their quiet play slightly increased after playing the low aggressive game compared to the control group. Neither video game had any significant effect on boys' free play. Neither girls nor boys gave significantly more punishments or rewards after playing any of the games.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-744
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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