In this study, we investigated the extent to which adolescents who spend time playing violent video games exhibit higher levels of aggressive behaviour when compared with those who do not. A large sample of British adolescent participants (n = 1004) aged 14 and 15 years and an equal number of their carers were interviewed. Young people provided reports of their recent gaming experiences. Further, the violent contents of these games were coded using official EU and US ratings, and carers provided evaluations of their adolescents’ aggressive behaviours in the past month. Following a preregistered analysis plan, multiple regression analyses tested the hypothesis that recent violent game play is linearly and positively related to carer assessments of aggressive behaviour. Results did not support this prediction, nor did they support the idea that the relationship between these factors follows a nonlinear parabolic function. There was no evidence for a critical tipping point relating violent game engagement to aggressive behaviour. Sensitivity and exploratory analyses indicated these null effects extended across multiple operationalizations of violent game engagement and when the focus was on another behavioural outcome, namely, prosocial behaviour. The discussion presents an interpretation of this pattern of effects in terms of both the ongoing scientific and policy debates around violent video games, and emerging standards for robust evidence-based policy concerning young people’s technology use.
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