Study 3: Longitudinal Study With
Elementary School Students
Study 3 was conducted to address the biggest gap in the violent video game research literature, the lack of longitudinal studies. Study 1 demonstrated that even children's games that have violent content can cause increases in aggression in the short term. Study 2 demonstrated that exposure to violent video games is associated with higher levels of aggression in the “real world” in a long-term context. Study 3 examined the longitudinal effects of high exposure to violent video games across a relatively short time span to see whether violent video game use leads to increases in aggressive behavior in daily life across time.
Elementary school students, their peers, and teachers were surveyed at two points during a school year. This age group was selected specifically because it was hypothesized that violent video game use might have the most noticeable effect during the middle childhood years. Because the major developmental tasks of this age group are to learn social norms of behavior and how to interact with peer groups, we hypothesized that children who were exposing themselves to high levels of violent video games would become more aggressive over the course of a school year. Aggressive behaviors are highly salient to children, so these would be measurable and might also be related to peer acceptance.
We hypothesized that children who exposed themselves to high levels of violent video games early in the school year would change to become more aggressive, and that this change would be partially mediated by hostile attribution bias. That is, controlling for prior aggressive behavior, playing violent video games would be related to later increased aggressive cognitions and behaviors. Furthermore, although it was not a primary ob-