Whether video game play affects social behavior is a topic of debate. Many argue that aggression and helping are affected by video game play, whereas this stance is disputed by others. The present research provides a meta-analytical test of the idea that depending on their content, video games do affect social outcomes. Data from 98 independent studies with 36,965 participants revealed that for both violent video games and prosocial video games, there was a significant association with social outcomes. Whereas violent video games increase aggression and aggression-related variables and decrease prosocial outcomes, prosocial video games have the opposite effects. These effects were reliable across experimental, correlational, and longitudinal studies, indicating that video game exposure causally affects social outcomes and that there are both short- and long-term effects.
Keywords: aggression; helping; meta-analysis; video games.