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November 14, 2008 — A new article describes how
heart rate and sleep in boys are affected by violent video games.
Researchers from Stockholm University, Uppsala University and
Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have worked together with this study.
In the study boys (12-15) were asked to play two different video
games at home in the evening. The boys’ heart rate was registered,
among other parameters. It turned out that the heart rate variability
was affected to a higher degree when the boys were playing games
focusing on violence compared with games without violent features.
Differences in heart rate variability were registered both while the
boys were playing the games and when they were sleeping that night. The
boys themselves did not feel that they had slept poorly after having
played violent games.
The results show that the autonomous nerve system, and thereby
central physiological systems in the body, can be affected when you
play violent games without your being aware of it. It is too early to
draw conclusions about what the long-term significance of this sort of
influence might be. What is important about this study is that the
researchers have found a way, on the one hand, to study what happens
physiologically when you play video or computer games and, on the other
hand, to discern the effects of various types of games.
It is hoped that it will be possible to use the method to enhance
our knowledge of what mechanisms could lie behind the association that
has previously been suggested between violent games and aggressive
The researchers, from Stockholm University, Uppsala University and
Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, also hope the method can be used to
study how individuals are affected by playing often and for long
periods, which can take the form of so-called game addiction.
An article on this research was recently published electronically in the scientific journal Acta Paediatrica.
This research on the effects of video games is funded by the Swedish
Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS) and the Oscar and
Maria Ekman Philanthropic Fund.
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