Understanding associations between exhibited aggression and aggression seen on television and in video games in children with behavioural and emotional difficulties, attending specialist outpatient mental health services
The possibility that seeing aggression on television and in video games might\ud cause aggression in children is a public health concern. A systematic review\ud found insufficient, contradictory and methodologically flawed evidence regarding\ud this association in children with behavioural and emotional difficulties. It indicated\ud the complexity of the subject, along with numerous gaps in knowledge. There are\ud few studies based in clinical settings.\ud This thesis reports a mixed methods pilot study that explored possible\ud associations between aggression seen on television and in video games and\ud reported aggression in children attending specialist outpatient Child and\ud Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Forty-seven children aged 7-11\ud years with behavioural and emotional difficulties, attending CAMHS, and their\ud carers participated in a survey. Twenty children were purposively selected; they\ud and a parent/carer participated in semi-structured interviews, which were\ud analysed using the Framework Analysis Approach.\ud Quantitative findings indicate that children exhibit various types of aggression, of\ud varying frequency and severity. Qualitative findings reveal that children see\ud aggression in multiple real and virtual settings. Children do not think their own\ud behaviour is influenced by seeing aggression. Carers regard aggression as the\ud result of a combination of inner and environmental factors, amongst which seeing\ud aggression in real life has more impact than television/video games. Verbal\ud aggression is often seen in real and virtual settings, frequently exhibited and\ud strongly associated with poor peer relationships and low prosocial behaviour.\ud There is currently no definitive proof of any association between seeing\ud aggression on television and in video games and exhibited aggression in such\ud children. This thesis makes suggestions for the undertaking of and methodology\ud for future research, tackling the challenges of researching this field and hard to\ud reach population. Carers, professional organisations and policy makers should\ud consider the role of aggression, particularly verbal, that children see in both real\ud and virtual environments.