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Video Games Don’t Make Teens Violent, Shows Study

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[ Science]

Earlier this week, an 8-year-old in Louisiana shot and killed his grandmother. The incident has sparked new flames in the ongoing U.S. gun control debate, but the familiar scapegoat of violence in video games is also being connected to the murder.

With the release of Grand Theft Auto V only weeks away, discussions of the impact of video games on minors will certainly be in the news for months to come. A study published this year, however, is contradicting common assumptions about violent video games.

The study, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, shows that violent video games do not cause teens to become aggressive. Even those teens dubbed “vulnerable” in the study (those with symptoms of attention deficit disorder or depression) were not made aggressive. In fact, the study found that violent video games had a “slight calming effect” on vulnerable teens.

“We found no evidence that violent video games increase bullying or delinquent behavior among vulnerable youth with clinically elevated mental health symptoms,” said Christopher Ferguson, a co-author of the study and a Psychology professor at Stetson University.

The study looked at 377 vulnerable children who averaged 13 years old. Those children who played violent video games were not seen to exhibit criminal or bullying behavior over that of their non-video game playing peers. A “cathartic” effect was even seen in some children, with aggression and bullying behavior dropping in those who played violent video games.

The study’s authors have called for a change in the perception of violent video games, especially with regards to at-risk youth.

“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,” said Ferguson.

(Image courtesy Thinkstock)

Video Games Don’t Make Teens Violent, Shows Study


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  • Hmm

    Video games have never made people do crazy things. Crazy people simply do crazy things.

    Here is what I don’t understand. We all are stuck in this mindset that kids are just “kids” even though the evidence around us suggests otherwise. We see teenage boys attacking old men just for the fun of it (reported on this website just days ago), young girls fully choosing to have sex with much older men, many teenagers selling drugs for the cash, steroid use among teenagers is at an all time high, etc. I could go on and on. The reality is that our kids aren’t kids anymore. Heck, most teenagers are bigger than their parents now.

    The reality is that our kids are making choices. They should be held responsible for their choices. That is the only way things will get better. The excuse that they are just “young and don’t know what they are doing” just isn’t cutting it anymore. Because frankly, they do know what they are doing.

  • BoB Backwards

    Of course video games are responsible for violence. There was no such thing as violent children before 1970.

    • Scott Bailey

      To the guy who said:

      “Of course video games are responsible for violence. There was no such thing as violent children before 1970.”

      There are many other things that follow along this very specific cut off point… There have been violent children at all points in time. The difference is that we have global media easily accessible to highlight certain violent crimes by children or teens and people ready to blame everything but themselves.

      Violence still happens with older people as well.

      Discipline also follows a similar timeline to which you stated… You probably don’t even know when the first violent video game was even made anyway.

      Look up some more detailed statistics about society in general and you might see many factors that lead up to all this ridiculous controversy about video games.

      If you are going to mention anything related to statistics you have to compile every other statistic even remotely linked to the subject at hand before you go pointing fingers and look at why that statistic is predominant and where else it is linked.

      In this case, most non violent children also play violent video games or HAVE at one point in time.

      With everything else the exact same statistic might apply to the opposite of who or what you might be pointing your finger at.

      Fact is that 99%+ of the population are not very smart and you fall into that 99% by just blindly stating some unproven point. (This is my own conclusion as I don’t think people are very intelligent at all otherwise this world wouldn’t be such a mess)

      Open your mind to other possibilities and re-evaluate your mindset before you post rubbish comments like this as you seem to have no clue whatsoever.

      Just plain rubbish.

      • Nick

        Are you a part of that 99% because you can’t even recognize sarcasm when you read it?

    • LastTulare

      Video games causes violence? Please, tell me what video game mankind has been playing for 5000 years…

    • DerpyChap

      What about Monopoly?

  • Scott Bailey

    I love violent video games.. I would love a violent video game where you could literally chop someone up into little bacon like pieces if I wanted to.

    But this is just for the interactivity.. I love games where you can tinker with anything.. Same goes for destruction of buildings or vehicles.. The more interactive the better.. Violence is just one of the many ways in which a game becomes interactive.

    Whether it be guns, rewarding drug use or insane violence in video games, the fact remains that I have played some of the most violent video games ever and I would never hurt someone intentionally because a video game allows me to.

    Some of the most violent video games I have played were also the most boring but some like Soldier of Fortune 2 were fantastic and the pure life-like violence such as chopping someones face to bits with a knife just added to the interactivity and made the experience more memorable.

    It’s not that I want to chop someone to bits in real life, it’s just that I want to do as much as possible in a video game without being inhibited by laws set out by a bunch of mostly old people on the R18+ board because they think it might make me become like that.

    Violent Movies have been around for ages and making something interactive doesn’t change anything at all.

    If someone wants to see gore just rewind and replay some of the Saw series and watch people get crushed to a pulp.

    Video games have a much lower impact than movies do in my opinion. I don’t remember people having nightmares from a video game but I do know people have had them from movies.

    Society needs to cut the blame game and look at the parents and peers of these psychotic individuals who keep getting linked to video games.

    We have to remember that statistics are just statistics… Numbers that often make no sense..

    To state that violent individuals tend to play violent video games more often than not would be because people in general play violent video games more often than not.

    The same statistic goes for non violent people… They tend to play violent video games more often than not because so many games are violent…

    And why are games violent? Because we leave violence in the video games where they should be and not in society…

    There is nothing wrong with violent video games or video games apart from the sitting around like lazy slobs and staying up too late playing them.

    It really grinds my gears that people always try and find something else to blame rather than finding the true cause of the problem.

    People are just stupid and follow statistics because they don’t have the intelligence to realize that statistics are mostly ambiguous.

    To people who think video games cause violence:

    You have a low IQ or you just don’t think outside the square and really need to take your blinkers off.

  • JJPANDACHICK

    I am so with you, Scott! If 40% of girls and 90% of boys play violent video games, then why isn’t everyone a murderer?! Most people here don’t even own a gun! Some people are inspired by video games, but overall I think it has to do with your home environment, poverty, maturity, and letting your kids play m-rated games when they are really young.

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