Violent video games glorifying antisocial characters could increase teenage gamers’ risk of criminal and other risky behaviour like smoking and alcohol use, a new study has found.
The study by Dartmouth University, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, also found that violent video games also affect teenage users’ self-image.
The 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 behavior," Dartmouth professor of pediatrics and co-author James Sargent said in a statement.
The research found that youths who play these types of video games may identify themselves to the antisocial protagonists they feature.
For the study, researchers questioned 5000 randomly chosen US teenagers over a four-year period by phone.
Among the factors they examined were playing three games glorifying violence - Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt and Spiderman - and other mature-rated games.
The study then found links between games of this nature and changes in a broad range of high-risk behaviors.
"This is due, in part, to changes in the users’ personality, attitudes and values, specifically making them more rebellious and thrill-seeking," the study said.