Fulgham, L.M. (2003). Effects of videogame play in boys: An examination of adrenocortical activity and behavior. (Doctoral dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University, 2003). Dissertation Abstracts International, 64 (2-B), 983.

Abstract:  This study sought to extend the literature on the effects of videogame play in young children, as well as extend and support the developmental psychobiological literature on cortisol-stress response in young children, including its relation to age and temperament. Cortisol levels, aggression, attention, and compliance were measured before and after play with a non-violent videogame for the treatment group, and before and after a children’s television program for the control group. Participants were 75 typically developing 5 to 7 year-old boys with videogame play experience, and their families. Children participated in a 1- hour laboratory session that included pre and posttest measures of salivary cortisol, free-play, and attention. A posttest interview was also administered to measure levels of interpersonal aggression. Parents completed three surveys: The Child Behavior Questionnaire (Ahadi, Rothbart, & Ye, 1993); The Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, & Edelbrock, 1981); and a demographic questionnaire. Parents also completed a posttest phone interview to assess child non-compliance. Data reported here confirm that boys who played routine, non-violent videogames demonstrated a significant increase in observable levels of object aggression immediately after videogame play, as well as an increase in non-compliance to parental requests for several hours after videogame play. In support of previous research (e.g., Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999), children who scored higher on the temperamental dimension of surgency/extraversion exhibited significantly higher levels of cortisol two hours-posttest than non-surgent children. Boys in the videogame condition had higher levels of cortisol than boys in the control condition two hours posttest, but this effect was independent of temperamental profile, and did not reflect a within subject increase in cortisol. Contrary to expectations, older, not younger, children demonstrated increased levels of aggression, younger boys did not differ from older boys on levels of cortisol, and attention was not compromised by videogame play. The behavioral effects of videogame play warrant precautionary measures for surgent and non-surgent children with regard to routine videogame exposure. Suggestions for future researchers include longer-term follow-up, expansion of age ranges, and greater numbers of cortisol collections. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)