Video games turn kids into killers?

Video games turn kids into killers? Not so, says new book

Just because you play as a criminal doesn't mean you'll become one.

While their digital pastime is often credited with eroding the state of contemporary literature, gamers have found an unlikely ally within the pages of a new book.

Penned by Harvard Med School researchers Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olsen, "Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do" refutes common conceptions about the causal relationship between violent video games and violent behavior.

In other words, playing a few hours of GTA IV will not result in your kid stealing a car, careening through traffic and gunning down civilians.

"What I hope people realize is that there is no data to support the simple-minded concerns that video games cause violence," Kutner told Reuters News Service in an interview.

Their findings are a result of a two-year study of over 1,200 middle-school students. Unlike most studies set in sterile lab environments using psychological triggers, much of their data was collected by -- brace yourself -- actually talking to their young subjects.

The researchers did note a link between mature-rated titles and aggressive behavior, as a significant number of both boys and girls who played M-rated titles reported getting into more fights over the past year than kids who didn't play M-rated games.

However, Kutner and Olson point out that this simply demonstrates a correlation between violent games and aggression, not that one causes the other, suggesting the possibility that the kids attracted to mature-rated games were naturally aggressive to begin with.

Ultimately, "Grand Theft Childhood" advises parents concerned about their child's behavior to consider a wider range of factors than just their interest in violent games, including bad grades, too much fighting and, of course, obsessive gaming, so you might want to start trimming down those marathon sessions of Halo 3 when mom's around (or better yet, get her to play along with you).


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