Effects of Prosocial, Neutral, and Violent Video Games on Children's Helpful and Hurtful Behaviors

Aggress Behav. Jul-Aug 2012;38(4):281-7. doi: 10.1002/ab.21428.


Recent research reveals that playing prosocial video games increases prosocial cognitions, positive affect, and helpful behaviors [Gentile et al., 2009; Greitemeyer and Osswald, 2009, 2010, 2011]. These results are consistent with the social-cognitive models of social behavior such as the general learning model [Buckley and Anderson, 2006]. However, no experimental studies have examined such effects on children. Previous research on violent video games suggests that short-term effects of video games are largely based on priming of existing behavioral scripts. Thus, it is unclear whether younger children will show similar effects. This research had 9-14 years olds play a prosocial, neutral, or violent video game, and assessed helpful and hurtful behaviors simultaneously through a new tangram measure. Prosocial games increased helpful and decreased hurtful behavior, whereas violent games had the opposite effects.

Keywords: aggression; helping; media violence; prosocial media; video games.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Irritable Mood*
  • Male
  • Socialization*
  • Video Games / psychology*