Violent games mostly 'harmless' - Study

Review of General Psychology deems aggressive software safe for vast majority of youths--but can harm ones with preexisting mental health issues.

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The Internet is a hotbed for sensationalist accounts of the destructive capability of violent video games. But among the muck, there are legitimate sources posting relevant and factual accounts. Studies published in a recent special issue of the journal Review of General Psychology, found that violent video games show no conclusive correlation with aggressive behavior in youth and explained how the issue is multifaceted and complex.

Boom headshot? Perhaps not.
Boom headshot? Perhaps not.

Christopher J. Ferguson, an assistant professor specializing in aggression, culture, and applied social psychology at Texas A&M International University, stated in the document that violent video games are like the malleable toast spread.

"Violent video games are like peanut butter; they are harmless for the vast majority of kids but are harmful to a small minority with preexisting personality or mental health problems," he said.

Further, he postulates that violent video games are not to blame in the creation of the "generation of problem youngsters." His research suggests that as video games have become more popular, children in the United States and Europe have scored higher on standardized tests, had fewer behavioral problems, and were engaged in fewer accounts of violent behavior.

Another scholar attached to the findings is Patrick Markey, an associate professor of psychology at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. He says a person's personality traits are the source material for understanding why an individual reacts the way her or she does to violent video games. He found in a study of 118 teenagers that those who play violent video games while they are "upset, depressed, emotional, or indifferent to the feelings of others," are likely to reactive negatively and become hostile following the media attachment.

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