Teens who play violent video games for long hours may be prevented from getting involved in different positive social experiences in real life, and in developing a positive sense of what is right and wrong, researchers said.
Mirjana Bajovic of Brock University, Canada, set out to discover whether there was a link between the types of video games teens played, how long they played them, and the teens' levels of moral reasoning: their ability to take the perspective of others into account.
She quizzed a group of eighth-graders (aged 13-14) about their playing habits and patterns and determined their stage of moral reasoning using an established scale of one to four.
The study results indicated that there was a significant difference in sociomaturity levels between adolescents who played violent video games for one hour a day and those who played for three or more.
Bajovic suggested that both the content of the games and the time spent playing contribute to the fact that many of the violent gamers achieved only the second stage of sociomoral maturity.
Earlier research suggests that adolescents who have not advanced beyond this point "usually have not had enough opportunities to take different roles or consider the perspective of others in real life."
"The present results indicate that some adolescents in the violent video game playing group, who spent three or more hours a day playing violent video games, while assumingly detached from the outside world, are deprived of such opportunities," Bajovic said.
"Spending too much time within the virtual world of violence may prevent [gamers] from getting involved in different positive social experiences in real life, and in developing a positive sense of what is right and wrong," Bajovic added.
There was no correlation between the amount of time adolescents reported playing non-violent video games and their sociomoral reasoning levels, the study found.
The research was published in the journal Educational Media International.