Teenagers who play violent video games over a number of years become more aggressive towards other people as a result, a new study has found.The research findings were said to be the first indication of a clear link between a sustained period of playing violent games and subsequent increases in hostile behaviour.
Girls who played them during their school years were found to be affected just as much as boys.
The research team at Brock University in Canada said their results were “concerning” and argued that violent games could “reinforce the notion that aggression is an effective and appropriate way to deal with conflict and anger.”
Evidence suggests that long-term players of violent games may become more likely to react aggressively to unintentional provocations such as someone accidentally bumping into them, they added.
The study, published in the journal Developmental Psychology, involved 1,492 adolescents at eight high schools in Ontario, 51 per cent of whom were female and 49 per cent male.
Surveys were carried out annually across four school years with the participants aged 14 or 15 at the start of the study and 17 or 18 at its conclusion.
The teenagers were asked a series of questions such as how often they pushed or shoved people and whether they frequently kicked or punched people who made them angry.
Psychologists used their answers to give each individual a score for their aggression level at each point in time.
Analysis showed that teenagers who played violent video games over a number of years saw steeper rises in their aggression scores during the study.
Others who regularly played non-violent games did not show any evidence of increased aggression.
The trend remained even after the researchers took into account other factors that could be linked to aggression such as gender, parental divorce and marijuana use.
Lead researcher Professor Teena Willoughby said: “The current study is the first to demonstrate a relation between sustained violent video game play and the progression of aggressive behaviour.
“It is clear that there is a long-term association between violent video games and aggression.
“This is an important and concerning finding, particularly in light of the hours that youth spend playing these games.”
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