Playing violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty does not cause anti-social behaviour, according to a study of American teenagers.
Research involving 377 children with an average age of 13, some of whom had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or depression, challenged the perception that gory games can trigger violent behaviour.
“We found no evidence that violent video games increase bullying or delinquent behaviour among vulnerable youth with clinically elevated mental health symptoms,” said Professor Ferguson of Stetson University in Florida.
Instead researchers found that violent games could sometimes be therapeutic and make children with ADHD less aggressive, although study leader Christopher Ferguson stressed the results should be treated "cautiously".
Children in the study were asked about their favourite video games, their experiences of bullying, violence and stress, and how they would react in a confrontation.
Earlier this week, an eight-year-old boy from Louisiana reportedly murdered an elderly woman after playing Grand Theft Auto IV.
New figures show that 2012 was the first year in which sales of digital music, video and games were valued at more than £1 billion.
At an end-of-year total of £1.033 billion, legal download sales accounted for more than a quarter of the music, video and games market, according to official year-end figures released today by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).
Disc sales of CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray and video games still account for over three quarters of the entertainment market, despite falling by 17.6% compared with 2011.