A study of 377 children with “clinically elevated attention deficit or depressive symptoms” found no connection between videogaming habits and increased bullying or violent behavior.
It’s a widely-held perception that even if videogames don’t pose a threat to most people, they can push people with pre-existing conditions over the edge. But in “Video Game Violence Use Among ‘Vulnerable’ Populations: The Impact of Violent Games on Delinquency and Bullying Among Children with Clinically Elevated Depression or Attention Deficit Symptoms,” researchers Christopher J. Ferguson, an associate professor at Stetson University, and Grand Theft Childhood author Cheryl K. Olson come to the opposite conclusion.
“We explored this issue with 377 children (62% female, mixed ethnicity, mean age=12.93) displaying clinically elevated attention deficit or depressive symptoms on the Pediatric Symptom Checklist,” the research abstract states. “Results from our study found no evidence for increased bullying or delinquent behaviors among youth with clinically elevated mental health symptoms who also played violent videogames. Our results did not support the hypothesis that children with elevated mental health symptoms constitute a ‘vulnerable’ population for videogame violence effects.”
That’s far from the last word on the matter and Ferguson told GamePolitics that he wouldn’t make too much of the study’s finding that violent games can actually have a “very slight” calming effect on teens with attention deficit symptoms. “But there’s been a lot of speculation about whether certain kids represent an at-risk population for violent videogames. This initial study suggests that, at least for kids with depression or attention problems, that isn’t the case,” he said. “It would be good for further studies to examine this in other populations of kids, but at least at this point such speculation about at-risk populations is just that…speculation.”