Violent videogames linked to crime and alcohol abuse

By admin
05 August 2014

Violent videogames glorifying antisocial characters could increase teenage gamers’ risk of criminal and other risky behaviour such as smoking and alcohol abuse. These adult-rated games also affect teenage users’ self-image. These are the findings of a recent study by Dartmouth College in the US that researchers published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

A previous Dartmouth study published in 2012 had already found that such videogames could incite teens to drive carelessly. Other studies have linked violent videogames to adolescent aggressiveness and violence.

But this latest study “is important because it is the first to suggest that possible effects of violent videogames go well beyond violence to apply to substance use, risky driving and risk-taking sexual behaviour,” Dartmouth professor of paediatrics and co-author James Sargent said in a statement.

In fact, youths who play these types of videogames may identify with the antisocial protagonists they feature.

"With respect to playing deviant videogame characters we feel it best to follow the admonition of [American author] Kurt Vonnegut in his book Mother Night: ‘We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be’,” said lead author Jay Hull, who chairs Dartmouth's department of psychological and brain sciences.

For the study researchers questioned 5 000 randomly chosen American teenagers via telephone over a four-year period.

Among the factors they examined were playing three videogames glorifying violence – Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt and Spiderman – and other mature-rated games.

The study then found links between games of this nature and changes in a broad range of high-risk behaviours.

“This is due in part to changes in the users’ personality, attitudes and values, specifically making them more rebellious and thrill-seeking,” the study said.

Researchers found the effects to be similar for both males and females, and strongest among those who played most, or played games with antisocial protagonists.


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