Video Media–Induced Aggressiveness in Children

Authors: Michael Steven Cardwell MD, JD, MPH, MBA


Transmission of aggressive behaviors to children through modeling by adults has long been a commonly held psychological concept; however, with the advent of technological innovations during the last 30 years, video media—television, movies, video games, and the Internet—has become the primary model for transmitting aggressiveness to children. This review explores the acquisition of aggressive behaviors by children through modeling behaviors in violent video media. The impact of aggressive behaviors on the child, the family, and society is addressed. Suggestive action plans to curb this societal ill are presented.

This content is limited to qualifying members.

Existing members, please login first.

If you have an existing account please login now to access this article or view your purchase options.

Purchase only this article ($15)

Create a free account, then purchase this article to download or access it online for 24 hours.

Purchase an SMJ online subscription ($75)

Create a free account, then purchase a subscription to get complete access to all articles for a full year.

Purchase a membership plan (fees vary)

Premium members can access all articles plus recieve many more benefits. View all membership plans and benefit packages.


1. Bandura A. Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis. Englewood, NJ: Prentice-Hall; 1973.
2. Wilson EO. Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press; 2000.
3. Anderson CA, Bushman BJ. Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: a meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychol Sci. 2001; 12: 353–359.
4. Grusec JE. Social learning theory and developmental psychology: the legacies of Robert Sears and Albert Bandura. Dev Psychol. 1992; 28: 776–786.
5. Evans RI. Albert Bandura: The Man and His Ideas. New York: Praeger Press; 1989; .
6. Bandura A. Analysis of modeling processes. In: Bandura A. , ed. Psychological Modeling: Conflicting Theories. New York: Atherton; 1974; : 1–62.
7. Bandura A, Ross D, Ross SA. Transmission of aggression through imitation of aggressive models. J Abnorm Soc Psychol. 1961; 63: 575–582.
8. Anderson CA, Berkowitz L, Donnerstein E, et al. The influence of media violence on youth. Psychol Sci Public Interest. 2003; 4: 81–110.
9. Hatch D. Movie industry may kill ratings. Electron Media. 2001; 20: 3.
10. Arcade game. Accessed May 8, 2013.
11. Walsh DA, Gentile DA. A validity test of movie, television, and video-game ratings. Pediatrics. 2001; 107: 1302–1308.
12. Halliburton R. Blood and gore on the web. New Statesman. 2005; 134: 13.
13. Bandura A, Ross D, Ross SA. Imitation of film-mediated aggressive models. J Abnorm Soc Psychol. 1963; 66: 3–11.
14. American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association. Joint statement on the impact of entertainment violence on children. Published July 26, 2000. Accessed January 7, 2013.
15. McLellan F. Do violent movies make violent children? Lancet. 2002; 359: 502.
16. Eyal K, Rubin AM. Viewer aggression and homophily, identification, and parasocial relationships with television characters. J Broadcast Electron Media. 2003; 47: 77–98.
17. Scharrer E. Virtual violence: gender and aggression in video game advertisements. Mass Commun Soc. 2004; 7: 393–412.
18. Anderson CA, Murphy CR. Violent video games and aggressive behavior in young women. Aggress Behav. 2003; 29: 423–429.
19. Tamborini R, Eastin MS, Skalski P, et al. Violent virtual video games and hostile thoughts. J Broadcast Electron Media. 2004; 48: 335–357.
20. Fling S, Smith L, Rodriguez T, et al. Videogames, aggression, and self-esteem: a survey. Soc Behav Pers. 1992; 20: 39–46.
21. Goodale G. Battles over media violence move to a new frontier: the Internet. Christian Science Monitor. 1996; 88: 10.
22. Kronenberger WG, Mathews VP, Dunn DW, et al. Media violence exposure in aggressive and control adolescents: differences in self- and parent-reported exposure to violence on television and in video games. Aggress Behav. 2005; 31: 201–216.
23. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 1994; .
24. Eron LD. The development of aggressive behavior from the perspective of a developing behaviorism. Am Psychol. 1987; 42: 435–442.
25. Huesmann LR, Moise-Titus J, Podolski C, et al. Longitudinal relations between children’s exposure to TV violence and their aggressive and violent behavior in young adulthood: 1977–1992. Dev Psychol. 2003; 39: 201–221.
26. Haninger K, Thompson KM. Content and ratings of teen-rated video games. JAMA. 2004; 291: 856–865.