A recent study by a group of scientists from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) concluded that pre-teens who play video games with substantial violence for prolonged periods of time daily are more likely to develop depression in the future. The study is available in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking released just last Monday, entitled, “Daily Violent Video Game Playing and Depression in Preadolescent Youth.”
The lead author of the study and director of the Prevention Research Center at the UTHealth School of Public Health, Susan Tortolero, Ph.D., said that previously completed studies have established a likely relationship between aggression and violent video games. Their study is the first to link these video games with likelihood of depression.
In Tortolero’s study, children who immersed themselves in gameplay for over 2 hours daily tended to manifest more symptoms related to depression compared to children who did not. This trend was clearly evident among male participants, with 15% of them logging in more than 2 hours per day.
These identified depressive symptoms are as follows:
- Anhedonia or lack of pleasure
- Lack of interest in activities
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Reduction in energy
- Low self-esteem
- Suicidal thinking
5,147 students in the 5th grade participated as a component of a year-long longitudinal study called Healthy Passages, which entailed asking this ethnically diverse group of students how frequent they would play video games and how violent these were. Tortolero revealed that the observation of depressive symptoms and amount of playing of violent video games were consistent across all ethnicities among the participating students. These findings merited the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of foundations aiming to support mental health are increasing. The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health recently awarded a UTHealth assistant professor a research grant to advance her mental health investigation on individual and combined effects of post-traumatic stress symptom severity and distress tolerance as the perceived or actual capacity to tolerate negative emotional states. Click here to find out more.