Thursday, December 16, 2010

TAMIU research: depression, not violent video games, may cause aggression

Editor's Note:
This next story comes from the Times of India, what's surprising is that it seems to reference research done here at TAMIU and possibly on Laredo's youth. The report is as follows:

A new research has suggested that violence in video games or on television is not related to serious acts of youth aggression.

In fact, how depressed young people are strongly predicts how aggressive and violent they may be or may become, says Dr. Christopher Ferguson from Texas A and M International University who carried out the research.

Ferguson recruited 302 mainly Hispanic youth between the ages of 10 and 14 years, from a small Hispanic-majority city population on the border of Mexico, as part of a larger study of youth violence.

They were interviewed twice – once at the start of the study and again 12 months later. Ferguson looked at their exposure to violence both in video games and on television as well as negative life events, including neighbourhood problems, negative relationships with adults, antisocial personality, family attachment, and delinquent peers.

He also assessed the styles of family interaction and communication, adolescents' exposure to domestic violence, depressive symptoms, serious aggression, bullying and delinquent behaviour.

His analyses show that 75 per cent of young people played video games within the past month on computers, consoles or other devices, and 40 per cent played games with violent content. Boys were more likely than girls to play violent games.

One year later, 7 per cent reported engaging in at least one criminally violent act during the previous 12 months, the most common being physical assaults on other students or using physical force to take an object or money from another person. Nineteen percent reported engaging in at least one non-violent crime during the same period, with shoplifting and thefts on school property at the top of the list.

In addition, Ferguson found that depressive symptoms were a strong predictor for youth aggression and rule breaking, and their influence was particularly severe for those who had pre-existing antisocial personality traits.

However, neither exposure to violence from video games or television at the start of the study predicted aggressive behaviour in young people or rule-breaking at 12 months.

Ferguson concluded: "Depressive symptoms stand out as particularly strong predictors of youth violence and aggression, and therefore current levels of depression may be a key variable of interest in the prevention of serious aggression in youth.

The current study finds no evidence to support a long-term relationship between video game violence use and subsequent aggression. Even though the debate over violent video games and youth violence will continue, it must do so with restraint."

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