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Study plays down link between games and child violence

Violent games are "not a strong predictor of aggression" says Texas university

Playing violent videogames, or watching violent television shows, is "not a strong predictor of aggression or violence among youth" according to a new study from Texas A&M International University.

The study was published online in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence and according to website HealthDay found that depression has the greatest influence on levels of aggression in children and teenagers.

A total of 302, mostly Hispanic, youths between the ages of 10 to 14 were studied - all from a small US city near the border with Mexico. Initial interviews revealed that 75 per cent had played videogames within the past month and 40 per cent played games with violent content.

In follow-up interviews it was found that 7 per cent of those studied had engaged in at least one criminally violent act in the last 12 months. A total of 19 per cent had been involved in a non-violent crime such as shoplifting.

"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," said Dr Christopher Ferguson.

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

The limited nature of the study is unlikely to have any major effect on the overall debate, which continues to suffer from a lack of large-scale scientific investigation. Nevertheless a recent poll did find that 54 per cent of Americans believe that playing violent games inspires real-life violence.

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