Research from the ivied halls of Harvard Medical School suggests that violent video games can be a healthy form of social interaction for teenagers; especially boys. The study by doctors Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olsen also suggests that teenagers that don’t play any computer games are at a greater risk of being involved in antisocial activities.
The research seems to hinge on the fact that playing videogames has become a normal form of social interaction for young people. Therefore, to not play video games might indicate that a person is feeling disconnected from society and “at risk”.
Dr. Kutner illustrates this:
In an interview with G4 TV’s X-Play program, Dr Kutner said Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho had not played any games at college, according to his roommates.
“That struck them as really odd, because everyone else did,” he said.
“That fell right into line with our research findings, that the kids who don’t play (games) at all are actually at greater risk of getting into trouble.”
Interestingly, the study does draw some correlations between games with mature ratings and violent behavior:
Half of the boys who played adult-rated games had been in a fight in the past 12 months, compared to 28 per cent of boys who played games with a less mature rating.
The results among girls were even more staggering:
Among girls, 40 per cent who played adult-rated games had been in a fight recently compared to only 12 per cent of those who didn’t.
What does this all mean? Parents that have kids who don’t play videogames should be very worried and parents whose kids like to play only violent video games might have cause for concern. On the other hand, parents whose kids like to mix it up and play a little of everything should feel fairly safe.
The study was by no means complete. In order to make any of the information meaningful, there needs to be a great deal more hard data. Kutner and Olsen pointed out that they had not distinguished between the typical behaviors of children that were playing the games that were linked with an increase in aggressive behavior. It would also be interesting to see the precise process by which that aggression was triggered and compare responses to those of children involved in other activities. Still, it is food for thought and provides a compelling argument for enforcing age ratings on games. [News Corporation]