Researcher Links Violent Video Games To Moral Maturity Development

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A Canadian researcher says there is a “significant negative relationship” between playing violent video games and the development of sociomoral maturity in young teenagers.

A new report from Brock University in Canada claims that playing violent video games can have a negative impact on the development of moral reasoning and maturity in teens. Researcher Mirjana Bajovic examined 109 grade eight students from seven elementary schools in the country and found, based on their Sociomoral Reflection Measure scores, that those who played violent video games for three or more hours per day exhibited significantly lower sociomoral maturity levels than those who played for just an hour.

Both the content of the games and the time spent playing them contribute to the delayed development, according to Bajovic, as there was no correlation with the amount of time spent playing non-violent games. That would appear to run contrary to earlier research suggesting that it was the amount of time spent playing games, without “getting involved in different positive social experiences in real life,” that led to delayed emotional development in some teens.

I’m not an academic by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t think we necessarily need to consider this a devastating blow struck by moral panic aficonados. For one thing, a sample size of 100 is pretty tiny as these things go, and I think it’s also fair to say that you’re going to find wildly varying rates of “sociomoral maturity” in any group of 13-year-olds, regardless of what they do in their spare time. That’s not to suggest that young teens should be sinking four or five hours a day into Call of Duty or Killzone, but I don’t think this necessarily counts as conclusive.

Bajovic acknowledged that keeping teens from playing violent video games is “not realistic,” but said that parents need to stay aware of what their kids are playing and for how long, and also recommended that they be encouraged to take part in activities with “different perspectives and positive role-taking opportunities,” like charity work and extracurricular activities. That much, I can’t argue with at all.

Source: Science Daily

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