Kids exposed to violent video games are more likely to pull the trigger in real life situations, as compared to those who do not indulge in such gaming habits, researchers have warned.
Published in the JAMA Network Open Journal, the study examined the effects of video games with weapons on children's behaviour when they found gun in reallife.
The study was conducted on children aged between 8-12 years who were assigned to play three different versions of the game Minecraft.
The first version was violent and required players to kill monsters with guns while the second required players to kill monsters with swords.
The third version was non-violent, with no weapons or monsters.
After 20 minutes of game-play, the kids played with other toys in another room that included a cabinet with two disabled handguns, said the researchers.
For the findings, the team from Ohio State University in the US, included 220 children who found a gun while playing.
Nearly 62 per cent of the 76 children who played the video game with gun touched a handgun.
About 57 per cent of the 74 children who played the game with sword violence touched a gun, and about 44 per cent of the 70 kids who played the non-violent version touched a gun.
The violent versions with guns and swords were significant even after accounting for other mitigating factors such as sex, age, trait aggressiveness, exposure to violent media, attitudes toward guns, presence of firearms at home, interest in firearms and whether the child had taken a firearm safety course.
Although, the research is limited by the artificial setting of a university laboratory and Minecraft is not a very violent game with no gore, the researchers encourage gun owners to secure their firearms and reduce children's exposure to violent video games.