(Natural News) A recent study published in Violence and Gender reported that video games can “decrease the likelihood of producing hate material online.”
According to researcher Jim Hawdon, the results of the study implies that “violent video games may serve as an outlet for aggression, not a precursor.” Hawdon is a professor of sociology and director of the Virginia Tech Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.
Based on the results of the study, aside from an increase in the number of Americans exposed to online extremism, more of them are creating and disseminating it.
Data from the study
The researchers determined the odds of creating hate material if the participant used social networking services compared to those who don’t use social networking services:
- First-person shooter video game players are 67 percent less likely to produce hate materials than non-players.
- Reddit users are 2.87 times more likely to produce online hate material than non-users.
- General message board users are 2.19 times more likely to produce hate material than non-users.
- Tumblr users are 43 percent less likely to produce hate materials as compared to non-users.
- Males are 1.76 times more likely than women to produce hate material online.
Based on the data from national samples of Americans who were 15 to 35 years old, the number of Americans who reported that they create hate materials had gone up. Only 8.1 percent of those sampled admitted to posting hate materials in 2013, but 19.8 percent of respondents admitted they created and shared hate material online in 2016.
Hawdon explained that based on the study results, using social networking sites like Reddit and general messaging boards raises the likelihood of being involved in disseminating hate material online. On the other hand, using Tumblr and playing first-person shooter video games minimizes the likelihood of producing hate material online. This implies that instead of being a precursor for aggression, violent video games can be an outlet. (Related: Do violent video games affect empathy? This new study may surprise you.)
He adds that when it comes determining who creates hate materials, analyses show that more men produce online hate material. This is proof that men tend to be more involved in violent behaviors online and offline.
The study also revealed that people who are members of an online community and regularly visit sites that host a lot of hate material will often create online hate materials. This suggests that the internet can create prejudiced online communities of individuals with similar beliefs “who collectively create, learn, and refine worldviews that justify, reinforce, and amplify their political dissatisfaction.”
This alarming spike in the involvement of creating hate material can be caused by various factors, such as more Americans having access to extremist messages online. Exposure to these materials also went up dramatically since 2013. The intensely opposed political atmosphere could also be responsible for the increase.
According to those who have done atrocious acts of hate-based violence, their exploration of online hate is one of the causes of their radicalization.
The other benefits of video games
Aside from helping individuals channel aggression, video games offer the following benefits:
- Games can help reduce pain — Games are one way of escaping real-life challenges, and they may provide gamers with a sense of relief.
- Games can help control your memory — Playing video games, such as a challenging puzzle, can ease immediate physical pain and help manage painful recollections of past trauma.
- Games reduce anxiety — One round of your favorite game can help minimize anxiety since this helps you focus on something that entertains you instead of the cause of your worry.
- Games make you more resilient and it can help you have a positive mindset — Gamers know that the “Game Over” screen isn’t the end, and if you fail a level, it’s not the end of the world. This sense of having a second chance even when you fail can translate to real-life experiences.
You can learn more about aggression and mental health at Mind.news.