A controversial new academic study has suggested that playing violent video games can lead young men to believe it is acceptable to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol, according to research conducted by Dr. Sonya Brady at the University of California, San Francisco and Professor Karen Matthews at the University of Pittsburgh.
Their study set out to test the effects of media violence exposure on young men aged eighteen to twenty-one years of age (no female gamers were included in the study). They claim that their results indicate that violent video games may play a role in the development of negative attitudes and behaviors related to health.
The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, suggests that violent video games negatively affect a player's blood pressure and lead to uncooperative behavior, permissive attitudes toward violence, alcohol and marijuana use (other drugs are not mentioned), sexual activity without condom use and hostile social information processing. More information on the study is available at its abstract page.
Men randomly assigned to play Grand Theft Auto III exhibited greater increases in these reactions and behaviors in comparison with men randomly assigned to play The Simpsons: Hit & Run. The study suggests that although those with a violent upbringing may become more physiologically aroused by media violence exposure, all youth appear to be at risk for potentially negative outcomes.