-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to violent video
games or television shows is not a strong predictor of aggression
or violence among youth, says a new study from Texas A&M
Instead, it found that depression influences children and teens
levels of aggression and violence.
The study's dismissal of violent video games as a risk factor in
aggression contrasts to some other recent findings, including an
analysis of 130 studies on video games and violence released in
March by researchers at Iowa State University and colleagues. That
analysis concluded the evidence strongly suggests that playing
violent video games increases aggressive thoughts and behaviors and
The new study included 302 mostly Hispanic youthS, ageD 10 to
14, in a small U.S. city on the border with Mexico. The
participants were interviewed at the start of the study and again
12 months later.
The initial interviews revealed that 75 percent of the
participants played video games within the past month, and 40
percent played games with violent content. Boys were more likely
than girls to play violent games.
At the follow-up interview, 7 percent of the young people
reported engaging in at least one criminally violent act during the
previous 12 months. The most common types of violent acts were
physically assaulting other students or using force to take an
object or money from someone else.
The study also found that 19 percent of the youth took part in
at least one nonviolent crime, such as shoplifting, over the same
After the researchers adjusted for such variables as exposure to
domestic violence, bullying and depressive symptoms, they found
exposure to violence in video games or television was not a strong
predictor of aggressive behavior or rule-breaking, concluded
investigator Dr. Christopher Ferguson, of Texas A&M
However, depressive symptoms were a strong predictor for
aggression and rule breaking and their influence was particularly
strong in young people with preexisting antisocial personality
"Depressive symptoms stand out as particularly strong predictors of youth violence and aggression, and therefore current levels of depression may be a key variable of interest in the prevention of serious aggression in youth. The current study finds no evidence to support a long-term relationship between video game violence use and subsequent aggression. Even though the debate over violent video games and youth violence will continue, it must do so with restraint," Ferguson wrote.
The study was published online in the
Journal of Youth and Adolescence.
The American Psychological Association outlines
warning signs of youth violence.
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