The to find out if prior history of aggression

relationship between computer games and children’s aggression has been a debatable
matter for quite a while now (Silvern & Williamson, 1987).  Several researchers such as Anderson,
Gentile, and Buckley (2007) and Cunningham, Engelstatter & Ward (2016) have
conducted studies to distinguish whether or not computer games provoke
aggression in children; some studies have supported this theory whereas others
contradict it.  The study reviewed for
this essay goes into more depth and intends to find out if prior history of
aggression is the rationale for evoking aggression in children or if their
aggressive choices are reliant on the content of video games. The authors did
not have a clear understanding of this theory hence why they conducted this
investigation, looking into if it was the underlying cause of children’s
aggressive behaviour. Their aim was to examine the aggressive choices children
made while playing a bespoke computer game. 
This computer game consisted of social dilemmas that could have provoked
aggression, allowing the research conductors to be able to monitor the
decisions seven-year-olds made in the game.

The aim of this study measures the quality of this theory
rather than the quantity, indicating that the chosen method of research is
qualitative. Qualitative is a form of research that produces complex data as it
attempts to understand and elucidate meanings (Braun and Clarke, 2013). The study is a
longitudinal examination that began analysis very early in the child’s
development. The reasoning in why it began early was due to research suggesting
that the first two years of life is the stage where problematic levels of
aggression originate (Alink et al., 2006; Côté, Vaillancourt, LeBlanc, Nagin,
& Tremblay, 2006; Lorber, Del Vecchio, & Smith Slep, 2015; NICHD Early
Child Care Research Network, 2004).  However,
Hay et al., (2017) discovered from their longitudinal study that the use of
physical force develops in the first year of life. The study was a lengthy
procedure analysed by the use of multiple data collection methods such as
interviews, demographic questionnaires, report forms and developmental milestone

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Hay et al. (2017) concluded that children, who are liable to
aggression in infant development, use those tendencies in the future when
playing on a virtual machine and even in realistic environments. Results showed
that signs of aggression in early years of development made it more probable
for the children to make aggressive choices in computer games.  Findings suggested that aggressive children chose
to play aggressive games, as opposed to the games themselves intensifying the
aggression in children (Elson & Ferguson, 2014). The characters in the game
did not demonstrate intense aggressive behaviour as the game was not designed
to be violent.  The bespoke game generated
situations like, being bumped into or taunted by peer avatars – mild
provocations (Hay et al., 2017). The results showed that in middle childhood,
boys made choices that are more aggressive in the game in comparison to girls. Subsequently
considering the gender aspect, the major family risk factor for aggressive
choices in the game was prenatal exposure to the mothers’ depression (Hay et
al., 2017). Waters et al. (2014) study supports this finding as they also infer
that prenatal exposure to the mothers’ depression increases the likelihood of
anger, aggression and violent crime. Previous
research proposed by advocates of exposure effects suggest that inordinate
measures of game-playing might promote aggressive propensities through
interplay of arousal within the context of the game and social learning
processes (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). Anderson and Bushman (2002) believed
that rates of aggression in and out of games could be elevated after
identification with violent game characters.  Another study Anderson (2004) conducted
suggested that violent video games are the rationale for school shootings and
other violent crimes.  Research regarding
the effect of violent video games has been supported with evidence that was
documented in laboratory experiments by researchers (Anderson, Gentile, and
Buckley, 2007). In contrast to this, a study that controlled for the
adolescents’ social environment claimed that there is no association between
violent video games and violent behaviour (DeCamp, 2015).  Another study supported this suggesting that increased
amount of time playing video games does not initiate violent behaviour (Cunningham,
Engelstatter & Ward, 2016). Chuang (2009) conveyed positive features
suggesting that video games assist the cognitive learning process as an attempt
to reinstate computer games original significance. Due to questions and
contradictions regarding children’s aggression and video games Hay et al.,
(2017) decided to conduct an investigation in relation to this. The hypothesis
made for this study was “that children’s aggression in the context of computer
games can be predicted by their own aggressive tendencies years earlier”. This
prediction is based of background research supporting the theory.

This study recruited 332 women from antenatal services that
were bearing a child for the first time. This sample was taken from two
National Health Service (NHS) Health Care Trusts in Wales, UK. The sample
cannot be generalised internationally, as it is only a representative of
participants from Wales in the United Kingdom. In addition, the study focused
on two ethnicity groups – British and Irish. Sample size could also be a factor
to affect the results as 22 families had withdrawn from the study by seven years
of age. This left 309 participants available however, only 287 were assessed at
the age of seven and the current analysis focused on 266 children. No reason
was provided in the article of why 26 participants were not assessed at 7 years
of age. Despite this, the demographic characteristics showed no significant
differences implying that sample similarities, to some extent correspond. These
characteristics were obtained by interviewing the parents at home during the
third trimester of pregnancy and the parents completed demographic
questionnaires. The assessments on the children consisted of home and
laboratory visits at the mean ages of 6, 12, 21 and 33 months including two
home visits when the child was at the age of seven.  Around three informers from each family
completed a developmental milestone checklist at 6 months following childbirth.
This assessment analysed aggressiveness in infancy in ways such as anger shown
through infant’s expressions or forceful behaviour towards their friends (Hay
et al., 2010). Classroom teachers also examined assessment of children’s
aggression at the age of seven. They assessed this using the 19-item aggressive
syndrome scale of Teacher Report Form (Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1986). The
results revealed that girl’s aggression scores were extensively lower than the
boy’s aggression scores from the classroom teachers (Hay et al., 2017).

Hay et al., (2017) used socioeconomic adversities in his
findings using polychoric principal component analysis. Examples of these
maternal experiences were; the age of the mother being  19 years or younger, the mothers unsuccessful
basic educational achievements, the mother being unmarried during pregnancy and
also the classification of the mothers occupation being regarded as lower
status in accordance to the Standard Occupational Classification 2000 (Elias,
McKnight & Kinshott, 1999). Other factors such as maternal aggressiveness
and prenatal depression had also been found to correlate with the infants anger
(Hay et al., 2014). The bespoke game consisted of five events in which children
were assessed by the choice of using a mallet (hammer-like tool) in the game.
That option was used to determine the aggressiveness in children.  Gathered from the study, the findings
supported the hypothesis.

The weakness within this study was that the
research method of choice was very time consuming for both the researchers and
participants.  This may be the underlying
reason in why several participants had withdrawn from the investigation. A
strong point of the research method is that it covers variables profoundly
which provides more in-depth data to conclude from (Douglas, 1976). Another
asset of the study is that varieties of data collection methods were used to
gather comprehensive, in-depth information regarding the main topic.

The limitations of this study are that one parents report is
the basis of the child’s exposure to games. In addition, the whole study relied
on only one game that was played by the children. To improve their results, Hay
et al., (2017) could gather participants from more than just one place for a
wider ranged sample as well as investigating participants from various
ethnicities. The reason for that is not every child can be generalised under
one or two ethnic categories.  In addition,
there were factors that were not controlled which could have an overall impact
on the results. An example of this would be some children might be more skilled
in playing computer games than other children resulting in weakness of the investigation.
Another few examples would be motor skills competence, situational factors and
effect sizes being relatively small (Hay et al., 2017).

This study shows that aggressive children’s attraction to
computer games acknowledges potential outcomes for future game-based
intervention schemes to diminish aggressive executives (Hay et al., 2017). As
well as that, children were responding to mild provocations of the designed
game, so for future research it would be interesting to see whether early
aggressiveness and preceding risk factors predicts aggressive choices in a more
violent computer game.


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