Violent video games 'affect teenagers' behaviour'
Violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto may lead to greater thrill-seeking and risky behaviour among teenagers, a study has found.
Previous research has already linked the adrenalin-pumping interactive games with higher levels of adolescent aggressiveness.
The new findings show that teenagers who play the games are also more likely to engage in what are described as "deviant behaviours", including excessive drinking, smoking, stealing, fighting, and unsafe sex.
Whether video games cause such behaviour or whether "bad seed" teenagers with a latent propensity for rebelliousness and risk-taking are more likely to play the games is unclear.
But the research showed increases in deviancy over four years that were not seen in teenagers who did not play violent video games.
US professor James Sargent, who co-led the research, said: "Up to now, studies of video games have focused primarily on their effects on aggression and violent behaviours.
"This study is important because it is the first to suggest that possible effects of violent video games go well beyond violence to apply to substance use, risky driving and risk-taking sexual behaviour."
The scientists recruited more than 5,000 US teenagers and conducted surveys of their use of video games from around the age of 14.
They focused on "mature-rated risk-glorifying" games, including Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt and Spider-man.