The video game industry is a multi-billion dollar industry representing about $9.9 billion dollars in retail sales in the U.S. alone in 2004 (Greitemeyer and Osswald, 2010). In this paper, video games refer to electronically controlled games played on any platform including console units, computers, internet, hand-held devices or various technology toys. In recent years, video games have redefined leisure activities among children as studies conducted in U.S. estimated that 99% of boys and 94% of girls play video games (Whitaker and Bushman, 2009), with children age 2-7 years spending an average of 3-5 hours a week playing games, while 8th and 9th grade students spend an average of 9 hours per week (Greitemeyer and Osswald, 2010). According to Whitaker and Bushman (2009), violence in video games is also commonplace with violent content available in over 85% of video games.
The effects of violent games on children have been reviewed extensively in the literature. For example, Dill and Dill (1998) suggested that exposure to violence in video games increases short-term aggressive behaviors due to identification with video-game characters particularly with aggressors in the game. In terms of gender, Funk and Colleagues (2000) noted that there were no gender difference with preference for violent video games as a higher preference for violent video games were observed in boys and girls. Recently, Sestir and Bartholow (2010) noted that the simulated experience with exposure to violent video games may increase aggressive feelings, thoughts and behaviors while decreasing prosocial behaviors and attitudes such as helping people in real-life situations. Bushman and Anderson (2002) conceptualized the General Aggression Model which illustrates the relationship between violent video games and aggression. Indeed, the authors noted that there are short-term and long-term effects of violent video games on aggression, with short-term effects leading to increased aggressive behavior over time, while long-term effects ultimately dictate that aggressive behaviors or attitudes are effective and appropriate with addressing issues related to conflict and anger (Anderson and Bushman, 2002).
Although the influence of violent-video games on aggressive behaviors is well established in the literature, the role culture plays in determining the level of aggression (whether short-term or long-term) exhibited from engaging in violent video games particularly among children of Hispanic origin is unknown. Indeed, it is possible that having Hispanic ethnicity (such as with being Puerto Rican, Mexican-American, Cuban, or Southern American) may act as protective factor by creating little or no form of aggression with exposure to violent video game given the level of acculturation with the American culture. Also Hispanic children with parents with low levels of acculturation may retain aspects of their parent's original culture which may reduce the opportunity to play with violent video games. As a result, lack of exposure to violent video games may reduce the effects of increased aggressive behavior over time as well as decrease the opportunity to interpret real-life conflicts in aggressive manners. Given that belonging to an ethic group with strong family ties such as the Hispanic culture may determine the type of activities, beliefs or practices that children are exposed to, it is important to explore cultural differences with exposure to violent video games.
Thus, the present study seeks to expand upon existing literature by examining whether there are cultural differences with exposure to violence in video games among children of Hispanic origin. This study is exploratory in nature in that it utilizes qualitative data to explore the role culture plays with violence in video games among children of Hispanic origin. The study is guided by the following research questions:
1. Are there cultural differences in short-term aggression from exposure to violence in video games in children of Hispanic origin vs. children with non-Hispanic Heritage?
2. What cultural factors are perceived to be protective against violence in video games among children of Hispanic heritage?
Methods: Qualitative research methods consisting of participant observations and in-depth interviews will be used to collect data for this study. Since this study is exploratory in nature, qualitative research methods such as observations and in-depth interviews are ideal in that they allow a better exploration of the cultural factors (such as language, family ties, cultural beliefs and practices etc.) that may influence short-term aggression due to exposure to violence in video games. Given the lack of data on culture and violence in video games, particularly with identifying cultural factors that…