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Video Games and Juvenile Delinquency

Updated on September 2, 2015

Are Video Games the Cause of Juvenile Delinquency?


The use of video games for recreation by minors has been on the rise in the last decade. Playing video games is a popular hobby among children and youth. According to (AESVI-ISPO, 2010), over two thirds of 6- to 17-year-old Italians use video games for recreation. In Europe, majority of 16-to 19-year-old Europeans regularly use video games (Interactive Software Federation of Europe, 2010). Most video games display violence since players are expected to shoot, stab, kill or destroy to advance to the next level. Over the years there has been a rise in juvenile delinquency (the act of engaging in criminal activities by persons considered to be minors), and psychologists have linked this to the growing use of video games by minors.

Arguments in Support of the Proposition

Dead Space 2 takes gamers through a horrifically scary battle for their lives in an alien-infested world.
Dead Space 2 takes gamers through a horrifically scary battle for their lives in an alien-infested world. | Source

According to (Center for Inclusive Child Care, 2011) external factors such as an over stimulating environment, activities that demand too much, being rewarded for being aggressive and media violence may influence a child’s behavior. Violent video games influence the behavior of minors by prompting them to imitate the behavior of the game’s characters, the cartoonish machismo, the hair-trigger rage, the dismissive brutality (New York Times, 2013). Further, Gentile and Gentile (2008) have noted that video games are exemplary teachers and are among the most effective learning tools available to youth. This explains why the young people quickly learn and practice violent scenes, something that results in delinquent behavior in the long run.

Based on a real, ongoing war, this game hits close to home for many families and is much too violent for children.
Based on a real, ongoing war, this game hits close to home for many families and is much too violent for children. | Source

A study conducted by Milani, Camisasca, Caravita, Ionio, Miragoli, and Blasio, (2015), in children between age 6 and 14 years in Italy, links the use of violent video games and age to higher levels of aggression, coping strategies, and the habitual video game weekly consumption of participants. Those who preferred violent games showed higher scores for externalization and aggression. The study confirms the role of violent video games as risk factors for problems of aggressive behavior and of externalization in childhood and early adolescence. In their study on Violent Video Games, Delinquency and Youth Violence, DeLisi, Vaughn, Gentile, Anderson and Shook (2012) concluded that Violent video games are associated with antisocialists even in a clinical sample, and these effects withstand the robust influences of multiple correlates of juvenile delinquency and youth violence most notably psychopathy.

Arguments Against the Proposition

Ward, Engelstätter and Cunningham (2011) have a different view on the correlation between video games and delinquency. In a study to identify the short and medium run effects of violent game sales on violent crime between 2005 and 2008, they note that while a one percent increase in violent games is associated with up to a 0.03% decrease in violent crime, non-violent games appear to have no effect on crime rates. Their research results indicated that higher rates of violent video game sales related to a decrease in crimes, and especially violent crimes.

In his book Adolescents, Crime, and the Media, Ferguson critically analyzes media effects on young people's behavior, brain development in adolescence, ways adults can be misled about youth’s participation in criminal acts, and how science can be manipulated by prevailing attitudes toward youth. Based on scientific and intellectual, the book covers a number of topics including violence in the media, media portrayals of crime and youth, research on violent television programs, video games, and other media as causes of crime.

Do you believe video games contribute to juvenile delinquency?

See results

There is a correlation between video games and juvenile delinquency. Video games create an over stimulating environment and are highly addictive. They influence the behavior of minors. The main theme of the games is violence and there is tendency to reward aggression. Minors quickly copy what they learn and practice in real life.


1. AESVI-ISPO. (2007). Genitori nell’era digitale: Il videogioco in Famiglia

[Parents in the digital age: Videogames in the family].

Retrieved from;dir_pk=902

2. Center for Inclusive Child Care. (2011). Factors that Influence Behavior.

Retrieved from

3. DeLisi, M., Vaughn. M., Gentile, A. D., Anderson, A. C. & Shook, J. J (2012).

Violent Video Games, Delinquency, and Youth Violence: New Evidence. Retrieved from

4. Gentile, D. A., & Gentile, J. R. (2008). Violent video games as exemplary teachers:

A conceptual analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37, 127-141.

5. Interactive Software Federation of Europe. (2010). Video gamers in

Europe 2010. Retrieved from files/video_gamers_in_europe_2010.pdf

6. Milani, L., Camisasca, E., Caravita, S. C., Ionio, C., Miragoli, S. & Blasio, P. (2015).

Violent Video Games and Children’s Aggressive Behaviors: An Italian Study.

Retrieved from

7. New York Times, (2013). Shooting in the Dark.

Retrieved from

8. Ward, R. M., Engelstätter, B. & Cunningham, S. (2011).

Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime. Retrieved from


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    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      I suggest there are other factors that also contribute to delinquency.

      There is no parent involvement or guidance while the child is playing.

      Many of the foes and victims are portrayed as adults. Not just any adult but the sort that might appeal to the child as a hero, a potential mentor. In other words kill the good looking man.

      Add to this the addictive nature of pushing buttons while ignoring everything in life around you while playing - and you have a sort of brain-washing atmosphere.

      During all of this time wasting activity the child/youth is learning nothing of life-skills. Only death skills. Junk food, junk mentality, fear, fight, kill, lack of trust, etc. All negative and degrading.

      I suggest this is all contributing to the problem.