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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Texas Finds Playing Violent Video Games Related To Depression in Preadolescent Youth

Preadolescent youth who play violent video games for a significant amount of time each day are at greater risk for depression, according to research from The University of Texas School of Public Health.

Susan Tortolero web

[Photo: Dr. Susan Tortolero]

“Previous studies have observed how aggression relates to video games, but this is the first to examine the relationship between daily violent video game exposure and depression,” said Dr. Susan Tortolero, principal investigator and director of the Prevention Research Center at the School of Public Health, part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

In the study, children who played violent video games for more than two hours a day showed significantly more depressive symptoms than those who did not. This was especially true for males in the group, 15 percent of whom played violent video games for more than two hours a day. Among African American male students, that rate rose to 19 percent.

Depressive symptoms were described as a lack of pleasure, lack of interest in activities, concentration difficulties, low energy, low self-worth, and suicidal ideation over the past year.

School of Public Health researchers examined 5,147 fifth grade students in three major cities, including Houston, as part of a longitudinal study called Healthy Passages. In this racial and ethnically diverse group, students self-reported how often they played video games and how violent each video game was over a year-long period.

“This association between violent video games and depression was consistent across all ethnic groups,” said Dr. Tortolero, who is also a professor in the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at the School of Public Health.

The study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, titled, “Daily violent video game playing and depression in preadolescent youth”, received support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is available online and will be in the journal’s print publication on September 10.