Yet Another Study Points Out That Video Games Aren't Evil

from the and-again-and-again-and-again dept

We’ve seen a bunch of similar studies over the years, but the folks at the Pew Internet and American Life Project are out with their latest study noting that video games don’t turn kids into isolated angry loners unfit to deal with the real world. Yeah, that seems obvious, but you wouldn’t know it listening to some of the rhetoric from politicians and anti-video game activists. What the study found, instead, was that nearly every child (both boys and girls) now plays some form of video game, and many of them use video games as a social activity to interact with their friends. Also, video gaming doesn’t take away from other social activity. And, finally, video games are often useful tools for teaching kids decision making and how to approach moral dilemmas. Most of this shouldn’t be all that surprising, but it’s nice to see it confirmed by yet another study. Hopefully this means we’re on the tail end of Congress blaming video games for things, and we can move on to the next technopanic.

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Comments on “Yet Another Study Points Out That Video Games Aren't Evil”

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41 Comments
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Two cents

They’ll keep blaming videogames until a new scapegoat comes along. We haven’t heard much about previous scapegoats like heavy metal music, comic books or skating in recent years.

It would be nice if they attacked the real underlying issues such as crime, poverty, abuse, parenting and education that cause most of these youth problems – and which have been largely unchanged over the last century at their core. But, that would involve not promising unrealistic instant solutions in order to get elected…

Dad of WoW Player says:

Re: social activity

I’ll second that. WoW has caused adults to become addicted to the game. I’m not sure what it is that is so addictive, but when otherwise responsible people – kids and adults – play the game to the exclusion of everything else, there’s a problem.

There are those that will say it’s only a symptom of something else wrong, but just like cigarettes, the addiction starts slowly. Before the smoker knows it, he/she can’t quit without serious consequences.

Addictive behavior such as lying, denial, forgetfulness and other similar symptoms have been observed in many MMORPG game players.

I don’t propose to ban video games, but there must be a line drawn between the casual user and the addicted. My solution was to restrict his access to the internet connection to my sons’ PC. It’s worked, but there’s been a lot of difficulties getting to that point. It was just the same as watching a relative trying to kick a bad smoking habit.

Even ex-players agree: Check this out

matt says:

Re: Re: dad knows nothing

You guys apparently don’t understand; people play wow because it is social.

People who get addicted dont’ spend enough time away from the game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a positive social experience from it.

Nice being the voice of technopanic, “dad of wow player”.

I’ve met lots of friends because of wow, even a short term girlfriend and made friends that happened to live in my area. There are two sides to every coin. However, I did quit midway through the expansion because it was too time demanding and I had begun to lose focus myself. Doesn’t mean the game is bad, that’s a persons own fault.

SteveD says:

Re: Re: Re: dad knows nothing

It’s a shame this debate always gets so polarised, as the truth of the issue is somewhere in the middle.

There are plenty of positives to come from gaming just as there are lots of negatives to come from too much of it. Too much of anything can be a bad thing.

I’ve played in a bunch of clans too, made some good friends and met a number of them face-to-face. But even if virtual friendships can be just as real as non-virtual ones, social experiences in MMO’s don’t do much to prepare youngsters for social experiences in the real world; they simply don’t challenge you enough to cause that sort of development.

Flirting with a Night Elf in WoW isn’t the same as flirting with girl in a bar no matter how drunk you get.

This is a really difficult subject to generalise because so much of it is down to the individual. I know some people who can binge-game then just switch-off and not touch their computer for days or weeks. I know other people who’ve become so hopelessly lost in WoW they’ve screwed up their lives and marriages and are probably still playing right now as I type this. It’s very personality dependant.

It’s definitely a good thing for parents to want their kids to grow up with balanced lifestyles however. Should I ever have kids I’d never let them game to the same degree my parents let me.

Urza says:

Re: Re: social activity

Bah! It’s not MMOs fault. I played Everquest many years ago (While I was in jr. high school)…later I tried out Anarchy Online…and most recently my girlfriend got me to try WoW. Yea, they’re fun at first, but they’re all the same, and any normal person quickly gets bored of doing the same damn thing over and over and over and over….

Oh, and I have a fairly extensive personal and family history of addiction, so I’m perfectly capable of being addicted to things…MMOs just aren’t that addicting. Hell of a lot easier to quit than alcohol or tobacco….

Grae says:

Re: Re: social activity

I like how you start to respond to the “it’s a symptom of a larger problem” argument, but veer off at the last second and crash into a mountain of red herring with your cigarette analogy.

The fact is, plain and simple, “MMOG Addiction” is a symptom of a larger problem. I’m willing to bet that your son has other problems in his life, and the way MMOGs provide easily achievable micro goals (in abundance) gave him an outlet to feel like he was accomplishing something.

Though it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out that you were unwilling to actually find out what the heck is going on in his life that would cause him to want to escape into an MMOG. Ask yourself, how well do you really know your son?

If your life is generally okay (everyone has problems, especially in today’s economy), and you are a fan of video games (online of offline) then chances are you’re going to have more sources of entertainment and fulfillment than just video games, and you will (like myself and many other people I know) enjoy all of these in a balanced, healthy way.

Not A Player says:

Read This

Online gaming addiction is an addiction to online video games, role-playing games, or any interactive gaming environment available through the Internet. Online games such “EverQuest”, the “World of Warcraft”, the “Dark Age of Camelot”, or “Diablo II” – dubbed “heroinware” by some players – can pose much more complex problems. Extensive chat features give such games a social aspect missing from offline activities, and the collaborative/competitive nature of working with or against other players can make it hard to take a break.

A New Parental Concern
Parents across the globe are increasingly concerned about their sons and daughters online gaming habits. They are sure that there is a problem but counselors unfamiliar with online gaming addiction don’t understand how seductive they can be. One mother explained that she had talked to her son’s guidance counselors, the school psychologist, and two local addiction rehabilitation centers. “No one had ever heard of someone getting addicted to X-Box Live,” she said. “They all told me it was a phase and that I should try to limit my son’s game playing. They didn’t understand that I couldn’t. He had lost touch with reality. My son lost interest in everything else. He didn’t want to eat, sleep, or go to school, the game was the only thing that mattered to him.”

Parents often feel alone and scared as their children become hooked to something that no one seems to understand. “My son’s counselor told me to just turn off the computer,” another mother explained. “That was like telling the parent of an alcoholic son to tell him to just stop drinking. It wasn’t that simple. We felt like no one was taking us seriously that our son had a real problem.”

Signs of Addiction
Gamers who become hooked show clear signs of addiction. Like a drug, gamers who play almost every day, play for extended periods of time (over 4 hours), get restless or irritable if they can’t play, and sacrifice other social activities just to game are showing signs of addiction.

Read more: http://www.netaddiction.com/resources/online_gaming.htm

Vincent Clement says:

Re: Read This

“My son’s counselor told me to just turn off the computer,” another mother explained. “That was like telling the parent of an alcoholic son to tell him to just stop drinking. It wasn’t that simple. We felt like no one was taking us seriously that our son had a real problem.”

Turning off a computer is not like telling an alcoholic to stop drinking. In the former, you are physically stopping the computer. In the later, you are asking the person to stop doing something. A better analogy would be removing all alcohol from the house.

The decision to turn off the computer is simple. What is not simple is dealing with the aftermath of making that simple decision. The counsellor was correct. Turn off the computer. What really matters is what the counsellor suggested in dealing with the consequences of that action.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Read This

In response to your winded comment, the same could be said about kids who are addicted to doing school work or playing outside with their friends. The same also goes for those people who feel the need to always read books (or online blogs) or the people who, on your way to work every morning, sun/rain, are out for their daily run around the neighborhood.

Some things are anti-social, and some are part of what makes everyone different from each other.

Video-games are not the problem. Pushing your ways/habits onto others, are the problem… Along with self-destructive patterns – but who is to determine these patterns? Momy/Dady? your peers?… or the government.

Overcast says:

Signs of Addiction Gamers who become hooked show clear signs of addiction. Like a drug, gamers who play almost every day, play for extended periods of time (over 4 hours), get restless or irritable if they can’t play, and sacrifice other social activities just to game are showing signs of addiction.

Yeah, that’s me.

So?

Seriously – if I want to spend my free time playing games, I should be able to. What about guys who get annoyed when they can’t watch Monday night football? What about people who get annoyed because they can’t go out on friday night?

I’d be willing to bet real cash too – that MOST people would literally FREAK if none of the TV’s worked in the house, wouldn’t most agree that’s true? I personally – as a gamer, could careless if I even have a TV.

But…After dealing with work, idiots on the road, greedy bill collectors, pushy schools, and watching the news for 45 minutes, so what if I choose to get the hell outta’ reality for a while.

And yes, I do actually insist on my recreation time, it’s a counterbalance to all the rest.

It’s said like an addicition to something that’s not hurting anyone is a bad thing. I still spend time with my kids and work and all – it’s just once that’s all done, I prefer to play video games, while most of the rest of the world vegitates in front of a TV – a TV they will get all annoyed about, if it’s not available 😉

Former Gamer says:

Video Games are like alcohol

I don’t believe video games are inherently good or evil. I think they are like alcohol or drugs. The majority of people are able to drink responsibly, while a percentage of people once they take that first drink, can not control their drinking.

Games can be the same. Many have no issue with playing while a good percentage (I have seen it estimated from 5% up to as high as 20%) of people once they get started begin to neglect real life. They let real life relationships fail, they loose their jobs, they discontinue most personal hygiene.

So maybe even though it may not be the games “fault”, a warning label as to the possible addictive nature of the games, might be a good idea…

Current Gamer says:

Re: Video Games are like alcohol

So you are suggesting that we should put warning labels on every product that has the potential for some sort of so-called addiction or abuse? If that’s the case, you would be hard pressed to find a something without such a label. Everyone has a vice and it is their (or their parent’s) responsibilty to keep it under control.

Anonymous Coward says:

IMO it boils down to parenting. Parents don’t want to deal with their kids any more. When i was a kid and was outside playing, got yelled at to come in, Pissed me off to the point we got in fights! Children and parents are in a never ending power struggle. Kids want to do what they want to do! Its the way its ALWAYS been Parents are so tired after working all day that they don’t wanna deal. So they say whatever, do what you want. then when the game does hook them they don’t wanna deal with limiting play time, or they feel so bad for little johnny cause he’s crying and say Ok son 15 more minutes. your son/daughter is not going to die if you limit their play time. They may scream, yell, cry, But which of those things is new to what kids do when you place boundaries. I do agree there is some form of addiction with gaming, And i do agree that MMO’s are WORSE than other types of games (because unlike other games they NEVER end) HOWEVER, ALL of this can be solved by PARENTING your child, BEING strict, and STICKING to your guns. Sometimes, you have to be the bad guy.

Riggs says:

I think the whole addiction thing has to do with the person. I myself just started playing WOW just went to college and one of my roommates plays it. I have played other RPG’s in my time and i guess i could say that i played too much but i don’t believe it was an addiction. An addiction to playing games with friends maybe. If my friends went out instead of playing the game, I was there…
Video games can be good and bad. If you do nothing but play and don’t talk to anyone else in the real world then you have a problem.
If you play with some friends and don’t spend every amount of your free time playing the game then your fine.

Some people have a more addictive personalty than others. I would say it would be better to be addicted to WoW than to be a chronic drinker. As long as your not stealing to play WoW witch means you have some income and a decent computer. If you go to a cafe to play well your just retarded.

James Doyle says:

Re: If you go to a cafe to play well your just retarded.

i have a computer that is good enough to play all my games, however some of the newest games have to have the graphics turned down.

i do on occasion go to an internet cafe with a bunch of friends so we can all play in the same room and on topend gaming systems. in fact a friend ive had since we were 4 was looking into buying it because the owner was selling so he could move back to israel. so for about 2 weeks we went pretty frequently and chatted with the regulars.

it surprised me a little, most of the regulars actually have a lot of disposable income, and have topnotch systems at home. however they prefer the in person socializing while playing. and since they buy time in bulk (100s of hours) they end up only paying $3-4 an hour. so lets say they binge and play there for 10 hours straight one day/night, that is about $40 for the time, and prolly another $10 for food. thats 50 bucks for 10 hours of having fun with people. spend 10 hours in a bar or club (obviously not all in one “session”) and you will be spending much much much more than $50.

now if you are broke and are practically living in a cafe, that is definately stupid. but such a broad sweeping “If you go to a cafe to play well your just retarded.” comment really hurts your post, considering it was actually a good one up til the last sentence.

J says:

WoW and wow

In regards to MMOs, World of Warcraft will almost always be the main topic, simply because it is the most prolific of the lot.

As for addiction, as many other people have ponited out, ANYTHING can become an addiction. I’ve known people who are addicted to working out. It’s viewed as healthier, however it’s just as anti-social, if not moreso.

With all things, they key is moderation. I play WoW, I’m a fairly dedicated end-game player. I also play on a local adult softball team. I also frequent the local pubs with friends (a few of which I met in WoW) As long as these things remain balanced, there is no problem.

Rekrul says:

Back when I was in grammer school, having an Atari video game and bunches of games actually got me at least two friends I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Signs of Addiction Gamers who become hooked show clear signs of addiction. Like a drug, gamers who play almost every day, play for extended periods of time (over 4 hours),

Playing for more than 4 hours is a sign of addiction? Gee, I’d hate to hear what they have to say about some of my 12-15 game sessions. 🙂

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Video games

Everything should have its limits. We allow people to go to a theater, and to boo or cheer, or otherwise express themselves, even if their conduct is annoying. We do NOT allow them to yell “fire” so they can watch in amusement while people trample others trying to leave!
So it should be with video games. I know a young man who now has a criminal record – and there is no question in my mind that he was heavily influenced by a violent video game that made criminal behavior look admirable, and law enforcement look like the enemy!
If the industry cannot police itself, we should do it with the legal system.

Rekrul says:

I know a young man who now has a criminal record – and there is no question in my mind that he was heavily influenced by a violent video game that made criminal behavior look admirable, and law enforcement look like the enemy!

He was a weak-minded moron if he was stupid enough to believe a violent video game represented real life. Would he think he could climb walls after playing a Spider-Man game?

George Collins says:

It's just the Person

Like many people on here said it’s the moron that gets addicted and/or influenced by some of the games that are out. It’s just the person that plays that game, because they wanted to do what ever they saw on the game even before they started playing the game in the first place. Like for example, Me i’m 16 years old and i been playing video games since i was four years old, playing from action/adventure to Bloody/gore(y) violent games and nothing wrong with me I make A’s in school and I currently looking for a job. So like i said It’s just the person.

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