'Video nasties' moral panic enjoys renaissance in Belgium

Speaking of cars, IT workers with teenage children concerned about their car insurance premiums could do worse than take a look inside their offspring’s fetid bedrooms, according to the latest research from Belgium.

The Catholic University of Leuven has released the findings of a study examining the hypothesis that computer racing games – in particular the more reckless “drive-’em-up” variety such as Grand Theft Auto – may be encouraging speeding and risk-taking in adolescents when they take to the roads for real.

Researcher Kathleen Beullens undertook the research after noticing “some drive-’em-ups give you points for driving into cars or even pedestrians”. The study analysed data from questionnaires returned from around 2,000 16- and 17-year-olds, asking how often they played racing and games. The team claimed reckless attitudes to speeding and risky driving were significantly linked with having played computer driving games at the age of 16 and 17.

Downtime remains unconvinced. Given the evidence of countless vehicular pratfalls resulting from satellite navigation in which drivers have shot off cliffs, riverbanks and canal pathways, there exists a far more obvious causal connection between interactive technology and bad driving which even the relatively innocuous Tetris would be hard-put to dispel.

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