For years the debate has raged on. Do videogames lead to violence in high risk children? For years the accepted answer has been “yes” or “it would seem that way”, very soon though that could all change. In a recent study the results were able shed some new (and very interesting) light on the subject.
“Video Games Not Tied to Violence in High-Risk Youth”
In this study Drs. Christopher Ferguson and Cheryl Olsen found that violent video games (such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty) did not increase the risk of violence from high risk youth.
Quite the opposite actually, what they did find that was in the case of high risk youth (those with symptoms of depression or ADD) video games actually served to calm the children. It also reduced the level of outward aggression that they were displaying.
The study included 377 children with 13 years being the average age. These were children from all walks of life as well. The only thing that they all had in common was either symptoms of depression or a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD. The study focused on this particular demographic because it is from this same group that a majority of children who display violent tendencies come from. These children were already a part of a much larger federally funded project designed to examine the effects of video game violence on children.
This adds food to thought in the ongoing public debate as to whether video game violence fuels behavioral issues and societal violence in children and teens. This is a debate that has had many parents dialed in to their media outlets, as main stream media continuously draws correlations between violent outbursts or behavior to violence in video games.
However, the findings in this study would say otherwise, Ferguson and Olsen found no evidence to support the theory that video game violence increases the likelihood of aggression in children and teens. Further the researchers found absolutely no link between playing video games and increased delinquent behavior of any kind.
Why the Secret Service is Interested
What their study did find though, was more in line with the findings of a recent Secret Service report. This report stated that the more general forms of youth violence (bullying and delinquent behavior) were more likely linked directly to predispositions for aggressiveness as well as stress levels.
It is noteworthy though that even the leaders of the study (Ferguson and Olsen) admitted that their results could not be generalized to include extreme cases such as mass homicide. But rather is directed at the more general forms of youth violence. They went on to advocate for a change in general perceptions about the influence violent video games exert on children.
True Factors Behind Violence
Though this study is unlikely to sway everyone involved in the debate, it will likely go a long way towards making the general public more closely examine the true factors behind violence when it pertains to children and young teens. Perhaps instantly blaming violent video games is going to become a trend of the past. If that is the case though, it is likely to bring to light some hard truths about the true causes of violence in children.