The Age, Australia 03-29-07 Study blames games A new book looks at the link between violent games and aggression in the young, writes Jason Hill. A NEW book lends support to claims that violent games contribute to aggressive behaviour in children. Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents presents an overview of worldwide research on the effects of violent games and argues that society should begin exploring how to reduce young people's exposure to media violence. Co-author Douglas Gentile, an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University and director of research at the private, pro-family US National Institute on Media and the Family, says more research is still needed. However, studies show that exposure to violent games increases the likelihood of aggressive behaviour in children. "Violent video games are a risk factor for aggressive behaviour," Professor Gentile says. "Our studies in the book demonstrate that clearly. The clearest is the longitudinal study, which shows that children who played more violent games early in a school year had actually changed to become more aggressive by late in the school year, as noticed by their peers and teachers." There are five main short-term effects of violent games on children, he says. "They increase arousal, increase aggressive thoughts, increase aggressive feelings, increase aggressive behaviours and decrease pro-social behaviours. In the long term, we see increases in aggressive thoughts and behaviours, and also desensitisation." Children can discriminate fantasy from reality but that does not inoculate them from the effects of violent media, he says. "All adults know advertisements are fake, yet they still work on us." Parents must "realise that both the amount of game play and content of game play matter and set limits on both". He says the educational possibilities of non-violent games also need to be explored. "Although games have been demonstrated to be effective, I don't think we've either begun to really tap their potential.Until we do those two things, they will be used haphazardly in schools and will fail to live up to their potential."