- The limited informativeness of meta-analyses and media effects
- Perspectives on Psychological Science
- Volume | Issue number
- 10 | 5
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
In this issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, Christopher Ferguson reports on a meta-analysis examining the relationship between children’s video game use and several outcome variables, including aggression and attention deficit symptoms (Ferguson, 2015, this issue). In this commentary, I compare Ferguson’s nonsignificant effects sizes with earlier meta-analyses on the same topics that yielded larger, significant effect sizes. I argue that Ferguson’s choice for partial effects sizes is unjustified on both methodological and theoretical grounds. I then plead for a more constructive debate on the effects of violent video games on children and adolescents. Until now, this debate has been dominated by two camps with diametrically opposed views on the effects of violent media on children. However, even the earliest media effects studies tell us that children can react quite differently to the same media content. Thus, if researchers truly want to understand how media affect children, rather than fight for the presence or absence of effects, they need to adopt a perspective that takes differential susceptibility to media effects more seriously.
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