A new study found that playing violent video games such as ‘Mortal Kombat,’ ‘Halo’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto’ actually had a slight calming effect on youths with attention deficit symptoms and helped to reduce their aggressive and bullying behavior.
The study was conducted by Christopher Ferguson of Stetson University and independent researcher Cheryl Olson from the US and it was published in Springer’s Journal of Youth and Adolescence.
Ferguson and Olson studied 377 American children, on average 13 years of age, from various ethnic groups who had clinically elevated attention deficit or depressive symptoms. The children were part of an existing large federally funded project that examines the effect of video game violence on youths.
Although Ferguson and Olson warned that their results could not be generalized to extreme cases such as mass homicides, they strongly advocate for a change in general perceptions about the influence of violent video games, even within the context of children with elevated mental health symptoms.
“We found no evidence that violent video games increase bullying or delinquent behavior among vulnerable youth with clinically elevated mental health symptoms,” Ferguson stressed. Regarding concerns about some young mass homicide perpetrators having played violent video games, Ferguson stated, “Statistically speaking it would actually be more unusual if a youth delinquent or shooter did not play violent video games, given that the majority of youth and young men play such games at least occasionally.”