Neil Keene The Daily Telegraph June 19, 2012 5:31PM
Years of study across the globe showed definite links between the amount of time spent watching dramatised violence and the likelihood of aggressive behaviour in youths.
Dr Wayne Warburton, deputy director of the Children and Families Research Centre at Macquarie University, said today that years of study across the globe showed definite links between the amount of time spent watching dramatised violence and the likelihood of aggressive behaviour in youths.
"There are some key impacts of violent media on children that are very well demonstrated in research," he said.
"They include increases in the likelihood of aggressive behaviour, increases in desensitisation to violence and an increase in the overall view that the world is more scary and hostile than it really is."
Dr Warburton, who has co-authored a book on the subject to be launched in Sydney tomorrow, said MRI brain scans of children exposed to dramatised violence showed similar neural reactions to those who saw violence for real.
"We know the human brain is re-wiring every second of every day, and it re-wires according to what we experience," he said.
"If we live in a war-torn country and we live in constant trauma and fear then our brains re-wire to look out for threats and to see people as hostile."
"But it turns out the brain isn't very good at differentiating between media and real-life situations ... so we find very similar effects across all the main media - television, movies, video games and music."
Dr Warburton is part of the International Society for Research on Aggression's Violent Media Effects Commission.
His conclusions today coincided with the federal government's decision to an R-rating classification for video games in Australia.
Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said the ratings reform had been 10 years in the making.
"The R18+ category will inform consumers, parents and retailers about which games are not suitable for minors to play, and will prevent minors from purchasing unsuitable material," he said.
Dr Warburton said tests showed children who played violent video games had a heightened likelihood of aggression for up to 15 minutes after switching off the console.
"But over the long term it's just like eating fatty food - one hamburger won't kill you but there is a cumulative effect," he said.
"If you're seeing violent or sexualised media for long periods, day-in and day-out then the brain is doing a lot…