August 26, 2013
Violent Video Games Do Not Lead To Violent Lifestyle
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A new study found that teens who play violent video games are not likely to become more violent or partake in anti-social behavior.
The study, which was led by Christopher Ferguson of Stetson University and independent researcher Cheryl Olson, found that games such as Grand Theft Auto and Halo do not trigger teenagers with symptoms of depression or attention deficit disorder (ADD) to become more aggressive.
The researchers found that the playing of such games actually had a very slight calming effect on youths with attention deficit symptoms and even helped reduce their aggressive and bullying behavior.
The findings were published in Springer’s Journal of Youth and Adolescence.
“We found no evidence that violent video games increase bullying or delinquent behavior among vulnerable youth with clinically elevated mental health symptoms,” Ferguson said in a statement.
Ferguson also addressed the concerns that some young mass homicide perpetrators had played video games, and he added that “statistically speaking it would actually be more unusual if a youth delinquent or shooter did not play violent video games, given that the majority of youth and young men play such games at least occasionally.”
For the study Ferguson and Olson studied 377 American children, on average 13 years of age – and from various ethnic backgrounds – who had elevated attention deficit or depressive symptoms. These children came from an existing large federally-funded project that examines the effect of video game violence on youths.
The timing of this study is notable that it comes the same day news broke that an 8-year old boy reportedly intentionally killed a 90-year-old caregiver.
The New York Daily News reported that the boy, who was reportedly quite friendly with the woman, shot her in the head inside a Louisiana mobile home after playing Grand Theft Auto IV. There is no motive in the case, and given the boy’s age he will not be charged in the crime.
CNN also ran an updated version of its list of the 10 most controversial violent video games on Monday, which had GTA IV topping the list.
This study by Ferguson and Olson also seems to contradict an Ohio State University School of Communication study that looked at gamers for three consecutive days and found that their aggressive tendencies grew with each additional day when they played violent games.
“It´s important to know the long-term causal effects of violent video games, because so many young people regularly play these games,” said Professor Brad Bushman, co-author of the OSU study in a statement from last December.
Bushman also used the analogy of smoking to playing videos.
“Playing video games could be compared to smoking cigarettes. A single cigarette won´t cause lung cancer, but smoking over weeks or months or years greatly increases the risk. In the same way, repeated exposure to violent video games may have a cumulative effect on aggression,” he added.
However, Ferguson’s and Olson’s findings do not support the belief that violent video games increase aggression in youth who have a predisposition to mental health problems, and further noted that their findings are in line with those of a recent Secret Service report in which the occurrence of more general forms of youth violence were linked with aggressiveness and stress rather than with video game violence.