KUOPIO, Finland — Playing video games can be an absolute blast for kids, but some struggle with losing or making mistakes. Many parents worry that gaming can lead to aggressive behavior in their daily lives, but what about poor behavior while still playing? A new study by scientists at the University of Eastern Finland reveals triggers for what they call “gamer rage” in children.
Outbursts of rage among kids are causing concern and public debate around the effects of digital gaming. This latest research examines the subject from a child’s perspective. What are the things that cause them to really lose control? As it turns out, kids are quite good at identifying these factors.
Findings show that one reason for gamer rage in children is disappointment with their own performance. Study co-author Juho Kahila says“repeated or last-minute game failures, or losing to a beginner, caused annoyance and rage” in participants. Kahila and colleagues interviewed 20 children who play video games and read essays by another 31 kids relating to their emotional experience.
The study finds that actions taken by other players, such as cheating or losing a game because of less-skilled teammates, were perceived as points of rage too. Out-of-game interruptions (having to do chores or homework, for example) and technical problems, such as poor internet connection, were also anger triggers.
Some games in particular were perceived as rage-triggering. Kahila explains that games that involved playing against a real human or getting humiliated by another player were identified as factors predisposing to angry outbursts. “Toxicity within the gaming community such as unpleasant remarks or bullying by other players, as well as noisy gaming environment” can provoke these feelings too.
“In addition, troubles in daily life, such as having a bad day at school, or feeling hungry, were also recognized as factors contributing to rage,” says Kahila.
In the essays written by the children, gamer rage often took the form of verbal expressions, as well as physical expressions, and eventually quitting the game. During their outbursts, children not only yelled and swore, but they also kicked and threw items on hand such as the console controllers or furniture.
Kahila says that the study shows that the reasons behind rage while digital gaming are very complex but, despite that, children are good at naming them. Many of the reasons — including in-game failures, cheating opponents, or a toxic gaming environment — are also seen in other gaming settings.
“For example, feelings of outrage caused by one’s own mistakes, a penalty missed by a referee, or annoying behavior by an opponent are all familiar, in real life situations such as ice hockey and football,” Kahila adds.
The findings are published in the International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction.
South West News Service writer Lilli Humphrey contributed to this report.