Boys who play no video games are at greatest risk for getting into trouble, according to a new book by two Harvard psychologists.
Lawrence Kutner, Ph.D. and Cheryl K. Olson, Sc.D. co-founders and directors of the Center for Mental Health and Media and members of the psychiatry faculty at Harvard Medical School, have authored a book titled Grand Theft Childhood, aimed at debunking common media and pundit chatter bemoaning a supposed link between violence and video games.
The pair have conducted a survey of 1250 kids and 500 parents to look at whether video games and teen violence are really connected.
In a recent interview, the two specialists said there was "absolutely no evidence" for a link between video games and teen crime, as in the past twenty years, the former has been on the rise and the latter on the decline.
They also said studies showing links between violence and playing violent video games required "a leap of faith," because they examine only short-term reactions and involve behavior that doesn't look like real-word aggression. Kutner pointed out that teens may also be aggressive after walking out of an action flick in a cinema, but that this was fleeting and elicited no uproar as with video games.
The authors also pointed to their most striking finding: while boys and girls who played exclusively M-rated games 15 hours a week were at significantly greater risk for getting into trouble than the average child, boys who played no video games were also at equally greater risk.
Kutner pointed out that the Virginia Tech killer, for instance, never played video games during college. "Playing video games, for boys, is a marker of social competence," he said.