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Study: Video Games Actually Lower Crime

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- We all know how wildly popular video games are, but many parents are disturbed by the violence of some games that their children or teens play.

But could playing those violent games actually benefit whole neighborhoods in a very unexpected way?

They can be intensely violent, involving torture, mutilation and killing, and kids tell us that's part of the appeal of these games.

"I like to kill people in this game," one young person said.

"I like to shoot people and get a lot of points," another added.

Whether violent video games can lead to violence has  been hotly debated for years, but now a new study surprisingly links these games to a drop in crime, reported CBS 2's Maurice Dubois.

The University of Texas study looked at sales of violent video games around the country. It found that for every 10 percent increase in the number of violent games sold, the crime rate dropped by 1 percent.

The study's author said the reason is simple.

"Video games not only cost money, but they also cost time. It takes a lot of time to beat the game, and so all those hours you're playing the game are hours that you're not getting into trouble," Mike Ward said.

And that comes as no surprise to one arcade owner, who also said the kids are better off.

"I think it's definitely safer. First of all, you have somebody that's there to supervise them so that's a plus and being on the street they could be anywhere," Keveral Young said.

Another study showed a similar drop in crime in neighborhoods with the most video game stores.

Video games may be good for the crime rate, but they may not be good for kids' health. Research shows that every hour a child plays games doubles their risk of becoming obese and that can result in other potentially serious health problems.

"This does lead to documented high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes, high sugar levels," said Dr. Robert Gotlin of Beth Israel Medical Center.

But there may be a simple solution that both helps keep communities safe and also keeps kids healthy.

"I would advise parents to keep kids outdoors or indoors and active and moving as opposed to sitting in front of a screen. The best advice for any youngster is to keep moving," Dr. Gotlin said.

The study only covered the effect of games on crime in the short term. Researchers said over a longer period of time, the results could be different.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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