Report: Non-gaming kids at bigger risk of being anti-social

A new research book into the global video games industry, which was produced with $1.5 million of US Government money, has concluded that video games actually help give young people ‘social confidence’.

Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Video Games And What Parents Can Do, penned by Lawrence Kutner PhD and his wife Cheryl K. Olson, surveyed around 1,300 young people all over the US – and concluded that there is ‘absolutely no evidence’ that playing video games will tempt children into a life of crime.

More surprising still, the duo discovered that, far from making young males anti-social, playing video games actually helped give them ‘social confidence’. Kutner and Olson discovered that boys who did not play video games at all had ‘significantly greater risk’ of developing tendencies at odds with that society expects.

Speaking to X-Play, Kutner said: "It seems that playing video games for boys is a marker of social confidence. That surprised us."

He added: "It’s interesting if you look at what happened a year ago at Virgina Tech… [the attacker’s] suitemates who he shared a dorm room with said that he didn’t play video games at all and that struck them as really odd because everyone else did. And that fell right in line with our research findings, that the kids who don’t play at all are actually at greater risk… It says something about their social relationships."

However, Kutner did decree that both boys and girls who play almost nothing but M-rated (18) violent video games for more than 15 hours a week, can be at greater risk of "getting into trouble." Olson added that this is a "risk marker; it doesn’t mean it’s causing it."

He also commented: "If you look at violent crime in the U.S. over the past 20 years among teenagers, it’s gone down and gone down significantly, and if you look at video game play, it’s gone up significantly."

Olson noted that many of the studies done by psychologists in recent years, which have tied aggression in video games to aggressive behaviour, "don’t seem viable".

In addition, Kutner clarified the difference between short-term and long-term aggression effects.

He said: "If you go to the local Cineplex and see a Jackie Chan or Jet Li movie and you watch a bunch of teenagers come out of that, of course they’re going to be sort of hitting each other and kicking; you know, they’re excited. But that goes away very quickly.

"And so there’s this leap of faith that if a child or teenager or even a young adult is exposed to this and they have a short term response, then that means it’s going to change their behaviour. We found it to be actually quite the opposite.”

Thanks to GameDaily for the story.

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