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Feb 04, 2014 01:11 PM EST

Violent Video Games Delay The Development Of Teen's Moral Judgment

There is a significant difference in sociomaturity levels between adolescents who play violent video games for one hour a day and those who played for three or more, according to a recent study.

Mirjana Bajovic from Brock University in Canada found that playing violent video games for at least three hours delayed the development of moral judgment in teens.  

For her study, Bajovic quizzed a group of eighth-graders about their playing habits and patterns, as well as determined their stage of moral reasoning using an established scale of one to four.

Her findings suggest that both the content of the games and the time spent playing contribute to the fact that many of the violent game players moral achieved only the second stage of sociomoral maturity, according to a press release.

"The present results indicate that some adolescents in the violent video game playing group, who spent three or more hours a day playing violent video games, while assumingly detached from the outside world, are deprived of such opportunities," Bajovic said in a statement.

She added that spending too much time "within the virtual world of violence may prevent [gamers] from getting involved  in different  positive social experiences in real life, and in developing a positive sense of what is right and wrong."

She found no correlation between the amount of time adolescents reported playing non-violent video games and their sociomoral reasoning levels.

Bajovic said although prohibiting adolescents from playing violent video games is not realistic, parents should be aware of what games their teens are playing and for how long. They should also pay attention to the ""possible effect that those video games may or may not have on their children's attitudes, behavior and moral development."

She also recommends that teachers, parents and teens work together to provide the different social opportunities many video players seem to be lacking, such as charity work, community involvement and extracurricular activities.

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