A longitudinal social network perspective on adolescents' exposure to violent video games and aggression
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Number of pages
SourceCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 24, 1, (2021), pp. 24-31
Article / Letter to editor
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Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Adolescents play video games as a social leisure activity, yet it is unclear whether peer influences play a role in spreading violent video game exposure (VVE) and aggression. It has been suggested that adolescents' aggression increases because of their friend's exposure to violent video games. This study tests this suggestion by using longitudinal social network analyses to investigate selection and socialization of aggression owing to VVE. A total of 796 adolescents from 34 different classrooms were followed from grade 7 to grade 8 (Mage = 12.60 years, 51 percent male adolescents). Exposure to violent video games, physical aggression, and within-classroom friendships were assessed at both time points. Data were analyzed by means of stochastic actor-based modeling in RSiena to estimate the effects of VVE and aggressive behavior on changes in friendships (selection), and the effects of friendships on changes in participants' VVE and aggressive behavior (socialization). Results showed homotypic selection effects, that is, adolescents became friends with peers who were similar in aggression and similar in violent video game exposure. Furthermore, there was a homotypic socialization effect, as friends became more similar in aggression over time. Friends did not become more similar in VVE over time. Violent games played by friends did not increase adolescents' own aggressive behavior. This suggests that concerns about peer influences on violent video games are unwarranted. Future studies on socialization processes of VVE should focus on influences from closest friends and investigate behavior during actual play.
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