Study examines how video games impacts kids’ behaviour

Washington: While video games are widely loved by children around the world, spending more time playing a violent game might have an adverse impact on kids. A new study examined how children who played violent video games, reacted when they found a real gun.

The study published in the journal ‘JAMA Network Open’ incorporated children between ages 8 to 12. They were assigned 1 of 3 versions of the popular video game ‘Minecraft’ (one child played while the other watched): (1) violent with guns used to kill monsters, (2) violent with swords used to kill monsters or (3) nonviolent with no weapons or monsters.

After 20 minutes of gameplay, the children played with other toys in a different room that included a cabinet with two disabled handguns.

The study analysis included 220 children (average age 10) who found a gun while playing. Nearly 62 per cent of the 76 children who played the video game with gun violence touched a handgun; about 57 per cent of the 74 children who played the game with sword violence touched a gun, and about 44 per cent of the 70 children who played the nonviolent version touched a gun.

Thus, it is clear that if children engage in more violent video games, they are more likely to pick up a gun.
Children exposed to violent versions of the video game were more likely to engage in the dangerous behaviour of pulling the trigger at themselves or their partner than children exposed to the nonviolent version.

The violent versions with guns and swords were significant even after accounting for other mitigating factors (sex, age, trait aggressiveness, exposure to violent media, attitudes toward guns, presence of firearms in the home, interest in firearms and whether the child had taken a firearm safety course).

Although, the study is limited by the artificial setting of a university laboratory and Minecraft is not a very violent game with no blood and gore, the authors encourage gun owners to secure their firearms and reduce children’s exposure to violent video games.


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