Choose Wisely: Violent video games leave teenagers ‘morally immature’, claims study


Spending hours playing violent video games stunts teenagers’ emotional growth, a study has found.

It is thought that regular exposure to violence and lack of contact with the outside world makes it harder for them to tell right from wrong. They also struggle to trust other people, and see the world from their perspective.

Researchers from Brock University in Ontario found that those who spend more than three hours each day in front of the screen are particularly unlikely to have developed the ability to empathise.

The Canadian researchers surveyed 109 boys and girls, aged 13 and 14, about whether they played video games, which games they liked, and how long they spent playing them.

Their findings found that 88 per cent of teens said they played games, and more than half admitted to playing games every day.

Violent games, including games where players have to kill, maim, decapitate or torture another human character, were among the most popular.

By the age of 13 or 14, scientists claim young people should be entering the third stage, and be able to empathise with others and take their perspective into account.

The research found that this stage appeared to be delayed in teenagers who regularly played violent video games.

It is also thought that teenagers who play games regularly did not spent enough time in the real world to learn to take other’s thoughts into consideration.

They concluded that rather than trying to enforce an ‘unrealistic’ ban on the games, parents and teachers should encourage teenagers to do charity work and take up extracurricular activities.

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