Violent video games are almost completely harmless to young people with any negative effects likely to only impact those with pre-existing mental instability.
That was one of the findings from a new research report, published in the Review of General Psychology from the American Psychological Association. "Violent video games are like peanut butter," Christopher Ferguson, an editor for the report told Reuters. "They are harmless for the vast majority of kids but are harmful to a small minority with pre-existing personality or mental health problems."
He added, "Much of the attention to video game research has been negative, focusing on potential harm related to addiction, aggression and lowered school performance. But recent research has shown that as video games have become more popular, children in the United States and Europe are having fewer behavior problems, are less violent and score better on standardized tests. Violent video games have not created the generation of problem youth so often feared."
The study concluded that children displaying anti-social behavioral patterns before play were more likely to act out or play aggressively after contact with a violent game. Another of the report's editors, Patrick Markeyn explained, "These results suggest that it is the simultaneous combination of these personality traits which yield a more powerful predictor of violent video games. Those who are negatively affected have pre-existing dispositions, which make them susceptible to such violent media."
The AMA added that analysis of the model showed a “perfect storm” of traits for children who are most likely to become hostile after playing violent video games including high neuroticism (easily upset, angry, depressed, emotional), low agreeableness (little concern for others, indifferent to others feelings) and low conscientiousness (break rules, don’t keep promises, act without thinking).