A new study has found that violent video games can alter the brains of young men after a mere week of playing.
Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe how playing video games might affect the brain. The results indicated that boys who played violent video games experienced changes in regions associated with cognitive function and emotional control.
Even more concerning, the researchers believe that these changes are likely long-term. However, the study did not test whether these mental changes lead to physical violence.
The findings come on the heels of a recent report that a condition known as “pathological Internet misuse” – in which children and young adults become dangerously addicted to computer games and the Internet – could soon be formally recognized as a mental health disorder.
Personally, I’m inclined to believe this study for the simple reason that we know social behavior is shaped by our human experiences. If we as children have been exposed to violence, drugs or abuse, those experiences could theoretically shape the way we behave as adults.
I also know that virtual reality is getting more and more sophisticated between 3-dimensional graphics and life-like sounds, and the personal experience of players is getting to the point where they can lose sight of what’s real and what’s not.
That’s why I think parents need to be very careful in introducing video games that are not age-appropriate to their children.
Remember, there are many ways for kids to get a hold of these games: other people’s homes, libraries and the Internet; so pay attention – especially this holiday season.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.