If your last year’s Christmas shopping list looked anything like mine, then at least one video game was on it. Even if your Christmas shopping didn’t add to the growth of the billion-dollar industry, with 170 million Americans playing video games [1], you probably know at least one person who would have appreciated if video games had been on your Christmas shopping list.

But with four of the five top selling video games of 2013 having “M” ratings for Mature audiences [2], and the frightening frequency of media stories concerning video game addictions and video game violence [3, 4], video games are as stigmatized as they are popular. While video game addiction is undoubtedly real [3], and violent video games have been linked to increasing violent and aggressive behavior in adolescents [4, 5], we must also remember to ask how frequently adolescents play violent video games and how many of these games depict violence for a realistic sense of adolescent behavior.

To examine how media influences youth behavior, including the usage of video games and their consequent influence, the “Growing Up With Media (GuwM)” study followed a cohort of almost 1,600 youth over a period of three years. The results observing video game usage, among other media, have been published in the GuwM bulletin, “Media Use Patterns,” and summarized in the following infographic:

Center for Innovative Public Health Research
Source: Center for Innovative Public Health Research


Thanks to Emilie Chen for her contributions to this blog.

The GuwM Study was funded by a Cooperative Agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U49/CE000206; PI: Ybarra). Points of view or opinions in this bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of policies of the Centers for Disease Control. We would like to thank the entire Growing up with Media Study team: Internet Solutions for Kids, Harris Interactive, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the CDC, who contributed to the planning and implementation of the study. Finally, we thank the families for their time and willingness to participate in this study.

Based on:

Korchmaros J., Lopez E., Mitchell K., Prescott T., and Ybarra M. Growing up with Media: Exposure to Violence and Sex in Media. San Clemente, CA: CiPHR. January 2012.


[1] Ewalt, D. M. (2013). Americans Will Spend $20.5 Billion on Video Games in 2013. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidewalt/2013/12/19/americans-will-spend-20-5-billion-on-video-games-in-2013/

[2] Entertainment Software Association. (2014). Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/esa_ef_2014.pdf

[3] Alarming Video Game Statistics. Retrieved from: http://www.addictions.com/video-games/alarming-video-game-addiction-statistics/

[4] Violent video games makes teenagers more aggressive, study finds. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/video-games/9593188/Violent-video-games-make-teenagers-more-aggressive-study-finds.html

[5] Violent video games and young people. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2010/October/violent-video-games-and-young-people

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