Unlike some of its contemporaries, The Guardian doesn't seem to be ashamed of our nation's games-playing youngsters. Far from handing out Kevlar on the nearest street corner and yelling to all and sundry about the end of the world, its home affairs column undresses some startling new research performed by the Home Office regarding children who play computer games. According to the report, children that become "addicted" to computer games "may actually be more intelligent than the average and go on to university and higher-ranking jobs". Perhaps the Home Office released this one seven days too early… The report goes on. Apparently a British study five years ago determined that avid gamers are highly motivated and intelligent people who land prestigious university places and are often misunderstood. More recently, a follow-up study has shown good academic results and better than average jobs as a result. It's encouraging to see a national newspaper printing something not comprised entirely of hearsay and moustachioed "experts" plotting the end of the world at our hands. One expert the article does name is Jessica Harris, the apparent author of nearly 20 studies into computer games and their affects on children. Harris' research indicates that children experience a short-term increase in aggressive behaviour as a result of playing or watching violent video games. Rather like the short-term increase in aggressive behaviour that follows a rugby match, or a game of football. Harris' research also indicates that on present evidence, to claim that children's levels of aggression are affected in the long term by gaming is impossible. At least on scientific grounds- it hasn't stopped the Daily Mail, mind. The level of concern in parents about the effects of video games on their youngsters has gradually increased since the early 90s, when games were viewed as a harmless pastime. The conclusions of research studies have varied, but the most recent, Jessica Harris', is the most comprehensive. Speaking to The Guardian, Ms. Harris said that the growing widespread concern over the effects "has led some to believe that children become more aggressive after playing such games". Harris is quick to point out that the jury is still out on the long-term effects, but current information does not indicate anything more than a short-term increase in aggression, which is characteristic of most active pursuits. Of the surveys, one actually discovered that gaming has a calming effect, because it provides "an outlet for aggression and the open expression of competition". With government research now showing that computer gaming can actually benefit children academically, perhaps people will start to realise that it's not all Doom and gloom for our nation's youth.
If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.