Video games linked to violent behavior
With the recent surge in youth violence across the country, there has been no shortage of new reports and research trying to determine what’s sparking these outbursts of rage.
Some studies point to peer pressure, lax gun control laws, action movies or perhaps a broken school system. Now, new research from Iowa State University suggests violent video games should be added to the list of possible causes.
As part of the study, published in the April 2013 issue of the journal Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, researchers looked at video game usage for 227 juvenile offenders who had engaged in crimes like gang fights, physical violence against their parents and assault on others within the previous year.
They found that those teens who frequently played violent video games were more likely to engage in violent, aggressive behavior.
Researchers say even after considering other well-known factors that when they took into account other factors that contribute to youth violence, they still found a strong, direct link between violent video games and violent behavior.
“When critics say, ‘Well, it’s probably not video games, it’s probably how antisocial they are,’ we can address that directly because we controlled for a lot of things that we know matter,” said Matt DeLisi, a professor of sociology at Iowa State University and lead author of the study, in a statement.
“Even if you account for the child’s sex, age, race, the age they were first referred to juvenile court — which is a very powerful effect — and a bunch of other media effects, like screen time and exposure. Even with all of that, the video game measure still mattered,” DeLisi added.
So does this mean parents should throw out all of their children’s violent video games?
That depends on your child, the researchers say. Playing violent games may not cause aggressive, criminal behavior, but allowing young people to get too attached to them is a risk factor.
“I think parents need to be truthful and honest about who their children are in terms of their psychiatric functioning,” DeLisi says. “If you have a kid who is antisocial, who is a little bit vulnerable to influence, giving them something that allows them to escape into themselves for a long period of time isn’t a healthy thing.”
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