Correlation, Causation, & Video Games

There is an interesting paper in the February 2004 issue of the Journal of Adolescence. It looks into the whole question of linkages between video games and adolescent aggression. The paper’s conclusion? The two are linked:

Six hundred and seven 8th- and 9th-grade students from four schools participated. Adolescents who expose themselves to greater amounts of video game violence were more hostile, reported getting into arguments with teachers more frequently, were more likely to be involved in physical fights, and performed more poorly in school.

So here is the question: Are adolescents who play more video games made more violent and aggressive by that exposure? Or, instead, is it that more violent and aggressive adolescents are more prone to play video games?

Sadly, while there is a kind of dose-response inherent in the paper’s methodology, it really has no answer to the crucial “what causes what” question.