New York: Teenagers who play mature-rated, risk-glorifying video games are more likely to engage in alcohol use, smoking cigarettes, delinquency and risky sex, says a study.
Such games - especially character-based games with anti-social protagonists - appear to affect how adolescents think of themselves, with potential consequences for their alter ego in the real world, the findings showed.
"Up to now, studies of video games have focused primarily on their effects on aggression and violent behaviours," said James Sargent, professor at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in the US.
"This study is important because it is the first to suggest that possible effects of violent video games go well beyond violence and apply to substance abuse, risky driving and risk-taking sexual behaviour," Sargent added.
In the new study, researchers conducted a longitudinal nationwide study involving more than 5,000 randomly sampled US teenagers who answered a series of questions over four years in telephone interviews.
They looked at a number of factors, including the playing of three violent risk-glorifying video games (Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, Spiderman) and other mature-rated video games.
They found that such games are associated with subsequent changes in a wide range of high-risk behaviours and suggest this is due, in part, to changes in the users' personality, attitudes and values, specifically making them more rebellious and thrill seeking.
The study appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.