Study Finds Games Are Not a Trigger For At-Risk Youth

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Study Finds Games Are Not a Trigger For At-Risk Youth


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 [http://www.grandtheftchildhood.com/GTC/Home.html] 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 [http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10964-013-9986-5] 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."

Source: GamePolitics [http://gamepolitics.com/2013/08/26/new-research-suggest-video-games-are-not-triggers-risk-teens#.Uhz-2sr9WVo]


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Danny Ocean

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Jun 28, 2008
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I think the issue is that some games, like good books and exciting films, are very absorbing.

If you yank someone out of it mid-way, especially to do something they don't want to do or find trivial, they're going to be pissed whether you're tearing them from a book, or an unpausable film or TV show. Or a game.

Also, they're played most by teenage guys, who are pretty cranky anyway.

I can quite understand why people would think that games are a trigger, because I definitely recall a plethora of occasions from my younger years, when I played more unpausable multiplayer twitch-fps's, and I'd react really obnoxiously to anyone getting in my way.

It's better now I'm mostly playing single-player RTS games, and not living with my parents.
 

CriticalMiss

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Jan 18, 2013
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It's interesting that they had a 62% female sample, I was expecting a mostly male set or around 50%. It's also a reasonbly good sized group too. A good sign that they know what they are doing as opposed to the studies with about a dozen anecdotal accounts.

But as we all know, the anti-game trolls don't care about studies that don't suit their agenda so this probably won't mean anything to them.
 

Machine Man 1992

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Jul 4, 2011
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*Dramatic pelvic thrust* Suck it Jack Thompson!

This is good news indeed. I mean the controversy over violent video games was pretty much over, but hey; I'm not going to argue with one last nail to the coffin.
 

RJ 17

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Nov 27, 2011
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That's a pretty long name for a study, good lord.

No one should be surprised at this, I'd imagine the only "vulnerable" population would be kids who (much like Adam Lanza) had a predisposition towards violence and unpredictable violent outbursts. But at that point it's easier to just accept what everyone should know by now: SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST FUCKED UP FROM THE GIT-GO! Seriously, why is it so hard for society/politicians/whoever to accept that "crazy person is crazy"? They don't need outside stimuli to make them crazy, they're crazy to begin with.

If you're kid's in the shed tying firecrackers to squirrels and crucifying frogs, guess what: he's fucked up. I don't think being bat-shit crazy is a choice or result of outside influence any more than homosexuality is. It's just the way some people are.
 

TiberiusEsuriens

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Jun 24, 2010
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Andy Chalk said:
A study of 377 children with "clinically elevated attention deficit or depressive symptoms"
I am curious as to who initiated this particular project. The demographic is your stereotypical "At Risk" youth, but it almost feels like this study was intentionally trying to find a link. Either way it's interesting to hear that targeting the most likely candidates yielded no aggressive behavior. While it won't be the end of this, (doubt people will ever stop complaining) if I was looking to find the most conclusive results this demographic would also be my choice. At least people can't say, "Those results are skewed, you targeted people who have no reason to be stressed or act out on negative feelings." (but they will anyways)
 

RJ 17

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Nov 27, 2011
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CriticalMiss said:
But as we all know, the anti-game trolls don't care about studies that don't suit their agenda so this probably won't mean anything to them.
The funny thing is the severe lack of studies that actually SUPPORT their agenda. But they wouldn't be the first group of people to cling to beliefs despite there not only being no evidence to support their claims, but also the fact that pretty much all the evidence that actually is available on the subject staunchly refutes their claims.
 

medv4380

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Feb 26, 2010
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When people say "pre-existing conditions" might be triggered by a video game they aren't thinking ADHD, or Depression. They are thinking Schizophrenia, and I'm sorry, but Video Game could trigger one of those people, but so could just about anything else.
 

CTYR

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Mar 25, 2012
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To be going to the very same University, Stetson, that is, as the man who has so eloquently and assuredly shown us this, I feel very proud.
...
Yes, I know, my comment brings nothing to the discussion table in any way, shape, or form, but come on, I can't help but get a sense of pride built up from this. For everyone who has ever played a violent video game, we all know that this issue was always something that came from the social up-bringing and surroundings, not if the games had you shooting people. I mean, certainly, there would most likely be something to be said of a child who was raised without restriction and guidance on entertainment like GTA, but in the end, that would probably still come down to something being faulty with how their guardians treated them.
Regardless, as a student in Sociology at Stetson, I'm happy to know I'm at a school with professors like this man.
 

Vrach

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Jun 17, 2010
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medv4380 said:
When people say "pre-existing conditions" might be triggered by a video game they aren't thinking ADHD, or Depression. They are thinking Schizophrenia, and I'm sorry, but Video Game could trigger one of those people, but so could just about anything else.
First off, as you said yourself, anything could be a trigger for such people. You can't ban everything and TV alone is a standard in nearly every home at this point.

Second and more importantly, those two aren't groups to disregard, they're very good groups to test. Kids with Attention Deficit are far more impressionable and depressed kids (especially the clinically depressed) could also be more inclined to violence in terms of getting back at people who they feel are depressed because of. For example, if you're being bullied by a large group or someone stronger - perfect mindset for picking up a weapon to even the playing field.
 

Bleidd Whitefalcon

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I find it somewhat ironic that the results of this study came out the day after GTA4 was accused of making an 8 year old shoot his caretaker
 

Baresark

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I guess it needed to be studied but it's also a kind of "no duh" situation. The position that kids with any mental disorder would fall prey being influenced into a more violent person via videogame violence is ridiculous. Most clinically depressed people are not actually violent. Nor are people with ADD or ADHD. None of those conditions are violent conditions in and of themselves. People who have an aggression based mental disorder who are also depressed can lead to greater violence when the two are combined, but that does not make depression a violent disorder. People who are also depressed show only a greater propensity towards self inflicted harm, not necessarily harm on others. Developmental psychology recognizes vicarious learning, which is what the whole idea that violent videogames causes an increase in violence, is based off of. But, vicarious learning does not seem to extend to videogames like it does for other media sources such as television, music, and movies. At least there is not statistically significant link like there is in other forms of media.

That isn't to say a link does not exist with violent people and videogames, but we would need a study on this level, repeated several times, to either prove or disprove it.
 

josemlopes

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Jun 9, 2008
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TiberiusEsuriens said:
Andy Chalk said:
A study of 377 children with "clinically elevated attention deficit or depressive symptoms"
I am curious as to who initiated this particular project. The demographic is your stereotypical "At Risk" youth, but it almost feels like this study was intentionally trying to find a link. Either way it's interesting to hear that targeting the most likely candidates yielded no aggressive behavior. While it won't be the end of this, (doubt people will ever stop complaining) if I was looking to find the most conclusive results this demographic would also be my choice. At least people can't say, "Those results are skewed, you targeted people who have no reason to be stressed or act out on negative feelings." (but they will anyways)
To be honest its better going immediatly after the ones that can be more affected to know if there is a connection there, a possible result could be that for these type of kids violent games arent exactly the best thing and I wouldnt mind having that as a warning for parents that have kids that suffer from these conditions (kind of like how you dont show stuff with a lot of flashing lights if your kid has epilepsy).

Its better then just trying to go after the "Games hurt every kid and turn them into murderers" or the exact opposite mentality that most studies seem to have, I honestly believe that for some kids a certain game can have a certain effect on them although at that point the problem most certainly isnt the game but what surrounds them (the game might not help though)
 

TiberiusEsuriens

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Jun 24, 2010
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josemlopes said:
I honestly believe that for some kids a certain game can have a certain effect on them although at that point the problem most certainly isnt the game but what surrounds them (the game might not help though)
That's a big topic [intelligent] people are bringing up with the latest "game murder." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/27/marie-smothers-grand-theft-auto_n_3821879.html

Long story short, an 8 year old shot his grandma in the back with a handgun after playing GTA IV. Children his age don't yet understand death permanence. Show them anything death related and they just won't get it. Games won't make a kid violent, but it makes sense that a little kid exposed to the violence won't understand that it is bad and not to be repeated if no one tells him.

Also, WHO THE F*** LETS AN 8 YEAR OLD PLAY GTA IV?
 

Scars Unseen

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May 7, 2009
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josemlopes said:
I honestly believe that for some kids a certain game can have a certain effect on them although at that point the problem most certainly isnt the game but what surrounds them (the game might not help though)
Although more delicately phrased than what the watchdog groups and politicians have been saying, this is really the same baseless speculation that they've been spouting off for years. It's somewhat irresponsible to say stuff like that without the addendum, "but I have nothing to back that belief up with, and it's possible that we'll find the Easter Bunny's secret lair before I do."
 

taciturnCandid

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medv4380 said:
When people say "pre-existing conditions" might be triggered by a video game they aren't thinking ADHD, or Depression. They are thinking Schizophrenia, and I'm sorry, but Video Game could trigger one of those people, but so could just about anything else.
As someone with schizophrenia I can tell you that you are wrong. People with schizophrenia are no more dangerous than your average person.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1525086/ said:
In this study, the prevalence of violence among those with a major mental disorder who did not abuse substances was indistinguishable from their non-substance abusing neighbourhood controls. A concurrent substance abuse disorder doubled the risk of violence. Those with schizophrenia had the lowest occurrence of violence over the course of the year (14.8%), compared to those with a bipolar disorder (22.0%) or major depression (28.5%). Delusions were not associated with violence, even 'threatcontrol override' delusions that cause an individual to think that someone is out to harm them or that someone can control their thoughts. Previous cross-sectional studies conducted in the United States (20,21) and Israel (22,23) had linked threat-control override delusions to an increased risk of violence.
People with schizophrenia and other major mental illnesses are over twice as likely as the general population to be the victims of violent crime.

People with schizophrenia aren't going to be triggered by video games and from all the time i've spent around other people with schizophrenia they enjoy video games to escape from all the distress in their life. It doesn't provoke violence or trigger it, but rather distracts from the pain.

Mania on the other hand is often times aggressive and depression can lead to suicide, which is considered a violent act. But video games are not going to trigger anything.
 

Nurb

Cynical bastard
Dec 9, 2008
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Another study stating the obvious...

In the 40's, they used "studies" to prove comic books were the cause of THE EXACT SAME PROBLEMS. It's called "Seduction of the innocent", and it goes into how much of a danger reading comics is to children and how it makes them do violent acts. (along with cannibis)

You can tell any alarmist to read it if they want to have their same arguments about games replaced with comics
 

MrBrightside919

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Oct 2, 2008
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Only a matter of time before another study comes along and says the opposite of this study...

...and then ANOTHER study will appear and say that last study was full of shit...

...then the next study will come along and say the previous study didn't know what it was talking about...

...and so on...

...and so on...




THE CIRCLE OF LIIIIIIIFE!
 

josemlopes

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Scars Unseen said:
josemlopes said:
I honestly believe that for some kids a certain game can have a certain effect on them although at that point the problem most certainly isnt the game but what surrounds them (the game might not help though)
Although more delicately phrased than what the watchdog groups and politicians have been saying, this is really the same baseless speculation that they've been spouting off for years. It's somewhat irresponsible to say stuff like that without the addendum, "but I have nothing to back that belief up with, and it's possible that we'll find the Easter Bunny's secret lair before I do."
What I was trying to say is that a violent game in a disfuncional kid can be more wood to the fire, not match that starts the fire.

For a kid to go and do those things a lot of stuff has to be wrong in his life, that is where you probably shouldnt let him play a violent game (and all falls back to the parents, its their responsability to raise the kid and its their job to keep whatever content they see fit away from the kid)
 

Bestival

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Damn, that is one of the catchiest study titles I've ever seen.

Sadly it won't matter what these studies show. As long as news stations rather have sensationalist news titles than do some proper reporting, and soccer moms rather freak out and scream about how this or that is ruining their children, while hopped up on 3 Ritalin pills that they stole from their kids who don't even need the god damned shit but suddenly get diagnosed with ADD when 10 years ago they would just have been outdoors-y, instead of actually taking an active roll or any kind of interest in their kids' life, nothing will change.
The only hope is that our generations, the ones raised on games, will slowly but surely phase out the older idiots and we can put this behind us.

Of course then something else will become the designated scapegoat, and we'll be bitching about how DNA splicing is ruining our children by making them glow in the dark or some shit, while we're all hopped up on space-ritalin waiting for our kids to be done playing deep-core soccer so we can take our submarine cars back to our underwater homes because WE'VE FUCKED ALL OUR SHIT UP.



So yeah, this changes nothing.