Playing ‘risk-glorifying’ video games like Grand Theft Auto causes teenagers to take more risks when driving, the American Psychological Association has claimed.
The research, which involved more than 5,000 US teenagers, was conducted over four years in four waves of telephone interviews. It found certain video games increased rebelliousness and sensation-seeking behaviour.
Grand Theft Auto III, Manhunt and Spider Man II, the first two of which are rated 18, were found to encouraged risk taking that could lead to more car accidents, police stops and drink driving.
78 per cent of teenagers studied admitted to speeding, 26 per cent to tailgating and a quarter to weaving in and out of traffic. One fifth said they had run red lights, and 27 per cent admitted to not buckling up. The least committed offence was crossing a double line (no overtaking) with just 13 per cent of teens owning up to that offence.
“Popular games that increase reckless driving may constitute even more of a public health issue than the widely touted association of video games and aggression,” Jay Hull of Dartmouth College, Hampshire, claimed in the report.
He added: “Playing these kinds of video games could also result in these adolescents developing personalities that reflect the risk-taking, rebellious characters they enact in the games and that could have broader consequences that apply to other risky behaviours such as drinking and smoking.”
Before you ring up Grand Theft Auto maker Rockstar over the damage its video game is doing to your teenagers, bear in mind a couple of facts. For one thing, none of the Recombu staff – who have admittedly enjoyed more than a spot of Grand Theft Auto over the years – have received points on their license or been caught going over the limit. We’ve also managed to resist drive-by shootings and starting a drug cartel, despite our willingness to do so in videogames.
Also, the test questions are somewhat flawed. A four point scale, which comprises ‘I get in trouble at school’ and ‘I like to do dangerous things’ is hardly scientific and can be easily skewed, especially when the average teen is hardly likely to admit to sitting at home drinking Earl Grey tea while reading a text book. And every driver, no matter how safe, will admit to having broken the speed limit at one point in their life.
The crux of the matter is that teenagers below the age of 18 should not be playing this sort of video game, as clearly stated on the front of the box in a big red circle. Parents who worry about impressionable youths should take more care to review what their siblings should or shouldn’t play or watch, especially when 52 per cent of the teenagers’ parents in the study admitted to letting them play these mature-rated games.
Bottom line: video games are too often the scapegoat for what is actually bad parenting.
Source: Daily Mail