AMES, Iowa -- Some good news about videogames. A study conducted at Iowa State University showed that prosocial media, which include videogames, positively influence behavior regardless of culture. The study, said to be the first of its kind, tested the levels of empathy and helpfulness in thousands of children and adolescents in seven countries: Australia, China, Croatia, Germany, Japan, Romania and the United States.
The results, which were published in the scientific journal Psychological Science, showed that greater exposure to prosocial media -- videogames, movies or TV shows that portray helpful, caring and cooperative behaviors -- resulted in higher levels of prosocial behavior among the youths.
"Most of the media effects research has been done in Western Europe or the U.S. and focuses only on one country at a time," said Sara Prot, lead author and graduate student in psychology. "In our study, we wanted a large international sample to be able to test these effects across different cultures."
Researchers added that it is important to understand the same game can have some "helpful" content, but also be primarily a violent game, and that such violent games produce harmful effects on players. On the other hand, they noted that nonviolent games with lots of prosocial content produce positive effects on children and adolescents.