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Study Links Violent Video Games To Anti-Social Behavior

February 6, 2009

A new study suggests the frequency and type of video games played among young college students appears to parallel risky drug and alcohol use, poorer personal relationships, and low levels of self-esteem.

Laura M. Padilla-Walker, an associate professor at the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, told Reuters Health the findings do not necessarily mean that every person who plays video games has low self-worth, or that playing video games will lead to drug use.

“The findings simply indicate video gaming may cluster with a number of negative outcomes, at least for some segment of the population,” she said.

The study looked at the previous 12-months’ frequency and type of video game and Internet use reported by 500 female and 313 male U.S. undergraduate college students.

The students involved with the study also recounted their drug and alcohol use, perceptions of self-worth and social acceptance, as well as the quality of their relationships with friends and family.

Padilla-Walker said the findings showed stark gender differences in video game and Internet use.

The research showed young men played video games three times as often as young women and reported playing violent video games nearly eight times as often.

Young women more often used the Internet for email and schoolwork, while young men were more likely to use the Internet for entertainment, daily headline news, and pornography.

Gender differences aside, the study noted correlations between frequent gaming and more frequent alcohol and drug use and lower quality personal relationships, as well as more frequent violent gaming and a greater number of sexual partners and low quality personal relationships.

Similar negative outcomes were linked with Internet use for chat rooms, shopping, entertainment, and pornography, but a contrasting “plethora of positive outcomes” with Internet use for schoolwork were also cited.

“These findings as a starting point for future research,” Padilla-Walker said.

Her team concluded that continued analyses of video game and Internet use should improve the overall understanding of health and development among emerging young adults.

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