A new study indicates that rather than being a negative influence, playing videogames may actually have some beneficial side effects.
The study involved over 1200 seventh and eight grade students who are also regular gamers, and found that while the prevalence of violent videogame play in that age group was high, there was no corresponding increase in violent or anti-social behavior. Dr. Cheryl Olson, a psychiatrist who led the study, said, “We found that most boys 12-14 years old are playing Mature-rated games, so this idea that M-rated games causes shootings or major violence just doesn’t hold water.”
Suggesting that videogaming can also help teenagers deal with emotions like stress and anger, she said, “We don’t know whether playing to get anger out is a good thing or a bad thing for any individual child, but we suspect that it might be healthy for a lot of kids.”
Olson also said that contrary to general perceptions, videogaming is a social activity. “They’re more likely to play with a group of friends in the same room or over the internet,” she said. “This stereotype of a solitary violent gamer up in his room wasn’t born out, at least in our study.”
“Violent videogame play is typical and normal for kids nowadays. That doesn’t mean that parents have to like it, but they shouldn’t panic about it,” she added. “It’s not going to ruin them, they’re not going to go out and pick up a gun.”