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Violent video game sales coincide with drop in violent youth crimes, according to study

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High sales of violent video games do not result in spikes in crime rates, instead correlating with a decrease in violent youth activity, according to research statistics shared in The New York Times.

According to the Times, between 1994 and 2010 the number of violent crimes among youth offenders fell by more than half, to 224 crimes per population of 100,000. At the same time, sales of video games have more than doubled since 1996.

In a working paper published online by a group of economists from three universities, weekly sales of violent video games were monitored across several different communities. The study found that both violent occurrences and high video game sales are seasonal; violence peaks in summer while more video games are sold during the holiday season. The group analyzed data from communities like college towns with high youth populations, monitoring crime rates in the month following high game sales.

According to University of Texas at Arlington economist Dr. Michael Ward, one of the study's authors, high violent video game sales were related to a decrease in violent crime rates.

"We found that higher rates of violent video game sales related to a decrease in crimes, and especially violent crimes," he said.

The Times says that while violent video games may attribute to people behaving "a little more rudely" after playing, there are many different factors besides violent media that contribute to aggression.

"None of these extreme acts, like a school shooting, occurs because of only one risk factor; there are many factors, including feeling socially isolated, being bullied, and so on," said Iowa State University psychologist Dr. Craig A. Anderson. "But if you look at the literature, I think it's clear that violent media is one factor; it's not the largest factor, but it's also not the smallest.

"At the very least, parents should be aware of what's in the games their kids are playing, and think of it from a socialization point of view: what kind of values, behavioral skills, and social scripts is the child learning?" he added.