Researchers need to tone down their theories about children and violent videogames, says study.
A new study conducted by researchers from Texas A&M and headed by assistant professor Christopher J. Ferguson has found that personality plays a much more significant role in levels of child aggression and violence than media consumption.
The researchers talked to 302 youths aged between 10 and 14-year-old in a small town on the Mexican border. Just over half of the participants were female and almost all were Hispanic. All had been participants in a previous study about depressive feelings and child delinquency.
The researchers asked the participants a variety of questions aimed at getting a sense of who they were, what their home life was like, what kind of media they watched/played, and for how long. Once the researchers had their data, they left the children to their own devices for a year, and then returned with more questions about media consumption and whether the child had done anything especially violent or aggressive in the preceding twelve months.
The study found that there was no clear correlation between the videogame playing and aggressive or violent behavior. Instead, it suggested that antisocial or depressive personality traits played much more of a role than any violent videogames or television. It suggested that, in the future, researchers should be a lot more conservative with their hypotheses on how violent games might affect children.
The study isn't the end of the matter however, as Ferguson noted in his conclusion. The participants were not randomly selected, despite the researchers trying to make the sample as representative as possible, and the study didn't take into account certain important factors like genetics or differing levels of self-control. He also added that the participants being overwhelmingly Hispanic might skew the data, and people should be wary of using it to draw conclusions about other cultures.
You can read the study in full here.