Gamers With Autism Face No Extra Violence Risk

Violent video games do not affect adults with autism any differently than other adults. No do they appear to be linked with an increase in aggression, reports a recent study.

After the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, there was speculation about a link between autism spectrum disorder and violence and, in particular, that violent video games could cause gamers with autism to act violently.

Lead author Christopher Engelhardt, postdoctoral fellow in the University of Missouri School of Health Professions, said:

“If violent video games caused adults with autism spectrum disorder to behave aggressively, we should have seen some evidence of this in our study, but we did not.

There are some caveats to our findings. For example, we only exposed participants to violent or nonviolent games for 15 minutes before measuring their willingness to behave aggressively. This study, therefore, cannot speak to the potential long-term effects of violent-video-game exposure.”

Blast your Opponent

After playing one of two video games that differed only in the amount of violence present in the game, participants engaged in a task to measure aggression.

In that task, participants were led to believe they were competing against another person in a trial to test their reaction times. If the participant won the trial, he or she could “blast” their opponent with a loud noise.

The length and volume of that noise were determined by the participant, which allowed the researchers to measure aggression levels in the participants.

More than 100 adults between the ages of 17 and 25, half with autism spectrum disorder and half typically developing, participated in the study.

Reference:

Christopher R Engelhardt and Micah O Mazurek
Video game access, parental rules, and problem behavior: A study of boys with autism spectrum disorder
Autism, July 2014; vol. 18, 5: pp. 529-537 doi: 10.1177/1362361313482053

Photo: Kimmo de Gooijer/flickr