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In New Study, Video Games Not Tied to Violence in High-Risk Youth


Rick Nauert PhD

By Senior News Editor Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 27, 2013 In a debate that has been raging f or nearly two decades, the latest research suggests the impact of violent video games has been overstated. In the new study, Drs. Christopher Ferguson and Cheryl Olson discovered violent video games such as Mortal Kombat, Halo and Grand T hef t Auto did not cause high-risk teens (those with symptoms of depression or attention def icit disorder) to become aggressive bullies or delinquents. In f act, in the study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence , researchers f ound that the playing the video games actually had a very slight calming ef f ect on youths with attention def icit symptoms and helped to reduce aggressive and bullying behavior. Ferguson, associate prof essor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University, and Olson studied 377 American children, on average 13 years of age, f rom various ethnic groups who had clinically elevated attention def icit or depressive symptoms. T he children were part of an existing large f ederally f unded project that examines the ef f ect of video game violence on youths. T he study is important in light of ongoing public debate as to whether or not violent video games f uel behavioral aggression and societal violence among youths, especially among those with pre-existing mental health problems. Societal violence includes behavior such as bullying, physical f ighting, criminal assaults and even homicide. And the news media of ten draws a link f rom the playing of violent video games to the perpetrators of school shootings in the United States. Ferguson and Olsons f indings do not support the popular belief that violent video games increase aggression in youth who have a predisposition to mental health problems. T he researchers f ound no association between the playing of violent video games and subsequent increased delinquent criminality or bullying in children with either clinically elevated depressive or attention def icit symptoms. T heir f indings are in line with those of a recent Secret Service report in which the occurrence of more general f orms of youth violence were linked with aggressiveness and stress rather than with video game violence. Although Ferguson and Olson warned that their results could not be generalized to extreme cases such as

mass homicides, they strongly advocate f or a change in general perceptions about the inf luence of violent video games, even within the context of children with elevated mental health symptoms. And, despite the f ear that violent video games may have instigated horrif ic behaviors by high-risk teens to senselessly take innocent lives, the evidence does not support the apprehension. Regarding concerns about some young mass homicide perpetrators having played violent video games, Ferguson said, 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. Source: Springer

APA Reference Nauert, R. (2013). In New Study, Video Games Not Tied to Violence in High-Risk Youth. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 29, 2014, f rom http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/08/27/in-new-study-video-games-not-tied-toviolence-in-high-risk-youth/58934.html