(NaturalNews) Young people today are spending less time playing outdoors and interacting with fellow human beings, and they are spending an increasing amount of time on electronic devices, gaming or surfing the internet. There are even portable gadgets to carry out such tasks while on the go. This is certainly a sign of the times. Worryingly, though, separate studies have linked violent video games and certain internet activities to various undesirable behavioral and thought patterns, including increased aggression and violence tendencies.
Study 1 - Gaming, Violent Gaming and Certain Internet Use Linked to Undesirable Behavior and Poorer Relationships
In one study, which was published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, researchers from the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, looked at the video game and internet use habits of 313 male and 500 female American undergraduate college students for a one-year period. Both frequency and type of use were analyzed. This data was then compared with information reported by the youngsters, such as their alcohol use, drug use, perceived self-worth and social acceptance, and the level of quality of their familial relationships and friendships. The study subjects were, on average, aged 20.
Firstly, the study team discovered that young men and young women had rather different gaming and internet habits. The male subjects were found to video game three times as much as the females, while they had a go at violentvideo games almost eight times as much. And while the girls often used the internet for schoolwork and email, the boys made use of it for daily headline news, entertainment, as well as pornography.
For both males and females, however, a clear association was found between the frequency of gaming and the regularity of alcohol consumption and drug use; more gaming was also linked to poorer quality relationships. Further, a clear link was noted between the frequency of violent gaming and one's number of sexual partners; again, more gaming was linked to poorer quality relationships.
In addition, the use of the internet for online chat rooms, entertainment, pornography and even shopping correlated with such undesirable outcomes, too, although using the world wide web for schoolwork was actually linked to several positive outcomes.
Study 2 - Internet Addiction Linked to Aggressive Behavior
In another study involving over 9,400 teenagers in Taiwan, it was found that those who were "addicted" to the internet were more likely to have engaged in aggressive behavior such as shoving, hitting or threatening someone. Such a correlation remained even after factors such as self-esteem, depression and exposure to violence on television were accounted for. Addiction to the internet was assessed using signs such as withdrawal symptoms (e.g. moodiness and irritability, giving up other activities in favor of online ones, etc.
While it was generally discovered that those "addicted" were more likely to be aggressive, this Taiwanese study, which was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health also found that the type of internet activity mattered. Specifically, chatting, gaming, pornography and online forums were some aspects associated with aggression. On the flip side, wholesome activities like research and study translated to less aggressive behavior. These findings can be said to be largely consistent with those of the Utah study.
Studies 3 and 4 - Violent Video Games Linked to Aggressive Behavior
Going further back, two studies conducted by psychologists Craig Anderson and Karen Dill analyzed the effects of violent video games on aggressive thoughts, feelings and behavior. The two studies, which were published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2000, were very different in that one used self-reported information of real-life aggression, while the other was an experimental investigation carried out in a laboratory.
The results, though, were similar. The researchers concluded: "Both types of studies - correlational-real delinquent behaviors and experimental-laboratory aggressive behaviors have their strengths and weaknesses. The convergence of findings across such disparate methods lends considerable strength to the main hypothesis that exposure to violent video games can increase aggressive behavior."
Whatever the strengths and potential flaws of these studies, the body of evidence linking violent video games and certain internet activities with undesirable behavioral and thought patterns, especially violent and aggressive ones, is growing. Television and movies, too, are potential culprits. It is clear that parents need to pay closer attention to such activities and their impact on the young and impressionable ones.