Study Suggests Violent Video Games Desensitize Teens

By Ural Garrett , Updated May 12, 2013 07:08 PM EDT
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Constant exposure to violent video games can desensitize teens according to the May of issue of Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine

Explained by Health Day, the study focused on 30 teenage boys ranging from age 13 to 15. Divided into two groups, one played played violent video games at high exposure (three or more hours and day) while the other played the same games at low exposure (less than an hour a day).

Rockstar Games' Manhunt and Animaniacs (genre version nor platform given) were used in the study.

The differences between the boys' reactions emerged while sleep. According to the study, the boys in the low-exposure group who played the violent video game had faster heart rates and poor quality of sleep than those in the high-exposure group along with increased feelings of sadness. Higher stress and anxiety levels effected both groups. Something that can cause "desensitizing effect" over time the report concluded if exposed to violent video games for too long.

""The violent game seems to have elicited more stress at bedtime in both groups, and it also seems as if the violent game in general caused some kind of exhaustion," wrote Malena Ivarsson, of the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University in Sweden, and colleagues. "However, the exhaustion didn't seem to be of the kind that normally promotes good sleep, but rather as a stressful factor that can impair sleep quality."

Violent video games have been a topic of discussion for decades but has increased since the December school shooting in Connecticut after the shooter was reported to be a gamer.

Forbes contributor Carol Pinchefsky disagrees, siting Ph.D candidate Paul Adachi who co-authored an upcoming paper in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence entitled "Demolishing the Competition: The Longitudinal Link Between Competitive Video Games, Competitive Gambling and Aggression."  The paper found that aggressive behavior doesn't stem from video games but through competition.

 "[C]ompetitive video game play was correlated moderately positively with aggression. In contrast, the correlations between noncompetitive video game play and aggression were small and mostly negative. Competitive gambling also was correlated moderately positively with aggression, whereas the correlations between non-competitive gambling and aggression were small and positive."

GameNGuide reported a few days ago that the Playstaion 2 version of Manhunt and The Warriors (an adaptation of an equally controversial movie during its time) is available. 

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