Growing Up with Grand Theft Auto: A 10-Year Study of Longitudinal Growth of Violent Video Game Play in Adolescents

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2021 Jan;24(1):11-16. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2020.0049. Epub 2020 Dec 18.


A host of studies have examined the impact of playing violent video games on aggressive behavior. However, longitudinal research is rare, and existing studies have allowed little room for individual variability in the trajectories of violent video game play. The current study used a person-centered approach to examine trajectories, predictors, and outcomes of violent video game play over a 10-year period. Three groups of individuals emerged: high initial violence (4 percent), moderate (23 percent), and low increasers (73 percent). High initial violence and moderate groups showed a curvilinear pattern of violent video game play across time, whereas low increasers group increased slightly in violent video game play across time. The high initial violence and moderate groups were more likely to be male, and those in the high initial violence group were more likely to be depressed at the initial wave. There was no difference in prosocial behavior at the final time point across all the three groups, but individuals in the moderate group displayed the highest levels of aggressive behavior at the final wave. Implications of the results are discussed.

Keywords: aggressive behavior; longitudinal research; media violence; prosocial behavior; video games; violent video games.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Altruism
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Theft / psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • Video Games / psychology*
  • Violence / psychology*