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Violent video games can lead to 'deviant' actions

By John von Radowitz

Violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto may lead to greater thrill-seeking and risky behaviour among teenagers, a study has found.

Previous research has already linked the adrenaline-pumping interactive games with higher levels of adolescent aggressiveness.

The new findings show that teenagers who play the games are also more likely to engage in what are described as "deviant behaviours", including excessive drinking, smoking, stealing, fighting, and unsafe sex.

Whether video games cause such behaviour or whether teenagers with a latent propensity for rebelliousness and risk-taking are more likely to play the games is unclear.

But the research showed increases in deviancy over four years that were not seen in teenagers who did not play violent video games.

Professor James Sargent, from Dartmouth College in Hanover, US, who co-led the research, said: "This study is important because it is the first to suggest that possible effects of violent video games go well beyond violence to apply to substance use, risky driving and risk-taking sexual behaviour."

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