A new study from Texas A & M University finds exposure to violent video games and television shows is not a strong predictor of real-world acts of violence and rule-breaking in children.
The study, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, looked at 302 mostly Hispanic 10- to 14-year-olds in a U.S. town near the Mexican border. Each child was asked whether they played violent video games or watched violent TV shows, then revisited a year later to see if they had engaged in any violent or non-violent crimes.
This experimental method differs significantly from many other studies into the effects of media violence, which actively expose an experimental group of children to violent content before measuring for increased levels of "aggression" in various ways.
As HealthDay reports
, the researchers found the children that played violent games were not significantly more likely to engage in aggressive behavior or rule-breaking than those that did not play, after other factors were accounted for.
However, the researchers did find a strong link between depressive symptoms and violent conduct in the children, especially among those children with preexisting personality disorders.
"The current study finds no evidence to support a long-term relationship between video game violence use and subsequent aggression," wrote investigator Chris Ferguson. "Even though the debate over violent video games and youth violence will continue, it must do so with restraint."
Earlier this month, an Australian government review
of the available scientific evidence found no clear link between exposure to media violence and real-world aggression.