Playing violent video games 'not harmful to children'
Playing violent video games such as Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto does not harm children and in some cases could actually be therapeutic, a new study has found.
Christopher Ferguson of Stetson University and independent researcher Cheryl Olson from the US studied 377 children to see if violent video games made them more aggressive.
The children averaged 13 years of age, were from various ethnic groups and all had clinically elevated attention deficit or depressive symptoms.
Playing video games has been frequently linked to violent behavior.
An eight-year-old boy who had reportedly just finished playing Grand Theft Auto IV recently shot and killed his grandmother as she sat watching television.
And a study published on Wednesday by Public Health England found too much time on computers or watching television can make children anxious or depressed.
But the new research, published in Springer’s Journal of Youth and Adolescence found no association between violent games and increased criminal or bullying behavior in children.
In a few instances, video game violence actually had a slight cathartic effect on children with elevated attention deficit symptoms and helped to reduce their aggression and bullying behavior.
The children were part of an existing large US government-funded project that examining the effect of video game violence on youths.
Clinical psychologist Dr Ferguson said: ‘We found no evidence that violent video games increase bullying or delinquent behaviour among vulnerable youth with clinically elevated mental health symptoms.
‘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.’
The team’s findings are in line with those of a recent Secret Service report which found general forms of youth violence were linked with aggressiveness and stress rather than video game violence.