A new review of 130 studies "strongly suggests" playing violent video games increases aggressive thoughts and behavior and decreases empathy.

The results hold "regardless of research design, gender, age or culture," says lead researcher Craig Anderson, who directs the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University in Ames.

His team did a statistical analysis of studies on more than 130,000 gamers from elementary school age to college in the USA, Europe and Japan. It is published today in Psychological Bulletin, a journal of the American Psychological Association.

Anderson says his team "never said it's a huge effect. But if you look at known risk factors for the development of aggression and violence, some are bigger than media violence and some are smaller.

"If you have a child with no other risk factors for aggression and violence and if you allow them to suddenly start playing video games five hours to 10 hours a week, they're not going to become a school shooter. One risk factor doesn't do it by itself."

But he notes that video game violence is "the only causal risk factor that is relatively easy for parents to do something about."

p>Source: USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-03-01-1Avideogames01_ST_N.htm