Violent video games have physiological effects on teenage boys
18 November 2008
Swedish Researchers have found that heart rate and sleep in boys are
affected by violent video games. The research was conducted by
researchers at Stockholm University, Uppsala University and Karolinska
Institutet and published in the journal Acta Paediatrica.
In the study, boys (12-15) were asked to play two different video
games at home in the evening. The boys’ heart rate was registered, among
other parameters. It turned out that the heart rate variability was
affected to a higher degree when the boys were playing games focusing on
violence compared with games without violent features.
Differences in heart rate variability were registered both while the
boys were playing the games and when they were sleeping that night. The
boys themselves did not feel that they had slept poorly after having
played violent games.
The results show that the autonomous nerve system, and thereby
central physiological systems in the body, can be affected when you play
violent games, without your being aware of it.
It is too early to draw conclusions about what the long-term
significance of this sort of influence might be. What is important about
this study is that the researchers have found a way, on the one hand, to
study what happens physiologically when you play video or computer games
and, on the other hand, to discern the effects of various types of
It is hoped that it will be possible to use the method to enhance our
knowledge of what mechanisms could lie behind the association that has
previously been suggested between violent games and aggressive
The researchers, from Stockholm University, Uppsala University and
Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, also hope the method can be used to
study how individuals are affected by playing often and for long
periods, which can take the form of so-called game addiction.
This research on the effects of video games is funded by the Swedish
Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS) and the Oscar and
Maria Ekman Philanthropic Fund.
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