A few weeks ago, we released a podcast called “Who Runs the Internet,” which included Levitt’s thoughts on whether online mayhem, including violent video games, may actually reduce real-world violence. Here’s what Levitt had to say on the matter:
Maybe the biggest effect of all of having these violent video games is that they’re super fun for people to play, especially adolescent boys, maybe even adolescent boys who are prone to real violence. And so if you can make video games fun enough, then kids will stop doing everything else. They’ll stop watching TV, they’ll stop doing homework, and they’ll stop going out and creating mayhem on the street.
The Times of Israel recently reported on a new study confirming Levitt’s theory:
The research, done by The Center for Educational Technology, asserts that video games — even violent ones — are beneficial for children on a scale much bigger than originally thought. The claims are in contradiction to other studies that found that extended gaming led to depression, anxiety and stunted social development, not to mention the physical effects brought on by long hours of sitting. Some studies have also linked between video games and increased violent behavior in children, arguing that simulated violence leads to real-life violence.
The center’s research involved over 1,000 children and adolescents ages six to 18, and concluded that video games were more than just entertainment; they improved learning, cognitive and interpersonal abilities, according to the study.
And it seems violent video games may help deter violence among another population: prison inmates. An article on Cracked, written by a former prison guard, claims that Xboxes and PlayStations are a great way of safely keeping inmates busy:
If you give them video games, they’ll be less likely to start fights. So once a week we’d hook up a bunch of TVs in a classroom so all of the murderers and rapists could play Halo. There’s nothing more interesting than seeing guys who have killed multiple people deathmatching each other.
(HT: Yehuda Aharon Simon)