Video games have long been blamed for many of the ills of modern society, and violent titles such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat are regularly used as scapegoats to explain tragic incidents, slipping moral standards or general delinquent activities.
However, new research at Stetson University in Florida has suggested that there is no evidence that playing violent video games causes anti-social behaviour in children — in fact, in some of the subjects tested, playing such games actually proved to be a beneficial experience, allowing them to tone down their aggressive behaviour.
The research was conducted by clinical psychologist Dr Ferguson and focused on 377 children with an average age of 13, all of which suffered some form of "elevated attention deficit" or had issues with depression. None of the children experienced an increase in their "bullying or delinquent behaviour" — in fact, some were even able to reduce such activities.
Violent games have come into the spotlight lately, largely down to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook. Shooter Adam Lanza was reported to be a massive Call of Duty fan, leading many critics to link his wargaming sessions with the murder of 28 women and children.
However, Dr Ferguson admitted that the results of the study could not be used to explain such extreme cases, adding:
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.
Do you find that playing games which feature a large amount of violence actually helps you to relax, or do you think such titles make you more aggressive or put you on edge? Let us know your thoughts by posting a comment below.