When Cole Keefer gets some down time, the 11-year-old enjoys playing action-packed video games that allow him to transform from a middle school student to a member of the military, firing gunshots at his enemy.
But it’s not like Cole, of West York, breaks any laws, or actually gets violent, said his mother, Nicole. That’s because she said her son merely takes “action” through a video game remote control in his room.
A recently released Indiana University School of Medicine study, however, indicates these types of violent video games can alter the brains of young men after a mere week of playing.
Researchers from the university used functional magnetic resonance imaging to observe how playing video games might affect the brain.
Those results found that boys who played violent video games experienced potentially long-term changes in regions associated with cognitive function and emotional control.
Those specific brain regions are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behavior, said Dr. Yang Wang, assistant research professor in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at the university.
The study, however, did not test whether those mental changes could potentially lead to physical violence.
While Keefer said she’s concerned with the study’s results, she said she monitors the behavioral patterns of her son and hasn’t noticed any negative changes as a result of his violent video games.
If that were the case, Cole would be cut off from those violent war-type games, his mother said. Some of Keefer’s son’s favorite game series include “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield” because he can play with all of his friends through the Internet, said Keefer.
“I guess you just have to take the good with the bad,” she said. “A lot of his friends play (those games), and it’s their way to socialize.”
here are some games Keefer said are absolutely off-limits in her home, including those from the “Grand Theft Auto” series.
The ongoing controversy over whether violent video games are harmful to users has raged for many years, making it as far as the Supreme Court in 2010, Wang said. But there has been little scientific evidence demonstrating that the games have a prolonged negative neurological effect, he said.
“For the first time, we have found that a sample of randomly assigned young adults showed less activation in certain frontal brain regions following a week of playing violent video games at home,” said Wang.
Source: Lauren Whetzel, The York Dispatch, Pa.