BYU Says Video Games Are Very, Very, Very Bad For You

from the very,-very,-very dept

Just as some new research has come out suggesting that there’s no causal link between video games and real world violence, wouldn’t you know that some researchers at Brigham Young University would put out a report claiming that video games are bad for you in many, many different ways. Game Politics notes that it’s no coincidence this report is coming out just as the state of Utah is looking to introduce new legislation regulating video games (just like regulations that have wasted tax payer money and been thrown out in state after state after state).

This study didn’t focus on violence, necessarily, but looked at a variety of different factors between gamers and non-gamers and found out that video gamers came out worse on every single factor. So, according to the study, gamers have worse relationships with friends and family, lower self-esteem, and… they’re more likely to smoke pot. At least the study’s author preached a bit of moderation in response:

Everything we found associated with video games came out negative… [But] I don’t want parents to go out and yank all video games. It’s like TV. We have to choose what’s good and bad and practice moderation.

Could have been worse… but the results still seem pretty questionable.

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Comments on “BYU Says Video Games Are Very, Very, Very Bad For You”

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TheDock22 says:

Re: no causality

I totally agree with this one. You automatically have to throw out the data that says “has bad relationship with family and friends” if the subject smokes pot, as that usually happens with any drug addict.

Another point of contention I have with these studies is how they define friend. I play games all the time with my friends…who may live in other states or countries. We IM and email outside of the game too, so what is to say that friendship is any less real then the people I go grab drink with after work?

Matt (profile) says:

Danger! Terror! Watch out! Eh, whatever...


They basically come out and say, “Yeah, video games will rot your brain, make your testicles shrink, get you hooked on ‘the marijuana,’ give you bad breath, make you kill your parents and your dog… But everything in moderation!”

This is like telling you that cyanide is bad, but then saying that a couple of drops will satisfy that almond craving that you’re having.

Another case of academia with an agenda, trying to cater (or engineer) their results to appease the “but what about the children” set.

PaulT (profile) says:

Considering the source, I’m not surprised at the results of the focus of the study nor the timing.

It also fails miserably at identifying causality. Are the video gamers more likely to smoke pot (and what’s wrong with that in moderation anyway apart from that pesky legality thing?), or are pot smokers more likely to play video games than any other activity? Did that mean that TV made more people smoke pot 20 years ago, or were the smokers just stoned in from of the TV instead of games when games weren’t so common?

The same with everything else… are people bad with relationships because they play games, or do they just play more games because they haven’t got a girlfriend to spend the time with instead? Do people have low self esteem because of games, or do they play games more than they participate in outside activities because they’ve got low self-esteem to begin with?

As ever, an incomplete, biased and inconclusive “study” that will still no doubt attract a lot of thoughtless parroting by biased media parties and opportunistic politicians.

ClarkW (profile) says:

Re: The study didn't not seek to establish causality.

I just took a close look at the abstract and, not surprisingly, the study claims none of the things that the press (including TechDirt here) are claiming it says.

It sought only to explore correlations, and pretends no causality at this point. If I still had access to journal databases, I’d like to take a closer look. But I suspect that the only bias I’d find is that of the tech press (and many commenters here) against any and all things which might possibly disagree with what they hold precious.

That and the rabid anti-Mormon bias, of course. But it’s okay to hate Mormons nowadays, right? Did we already change from hating black people, Jews, and gays to hating Mormons, Latinos, and Muslims?

Angry Gamer says:

a boi yoi yoi

Hokay…. Its not my fault that your family was not raised on Grand Theft Auto, because I was. I am currently in law school and make straight A’s. If you ever want to 1V1 me then call 1-256-613-7350. If kids didn’t suck so much at video games then they wouldn’t have terrible self-esteem. That scenario applies to all things in life. If someone does badly in school then they will have low self-esteem. If anyone has trouble keeping up with seven wives (referring to you), then they would have low self esteem.

Mormon fags


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: a boi yoi yoi

Hmm, are you sure you get straight A’s in law school? Your post seems to indicate otherwise. You obviously have trouble forming a logical argument, and make contradictory statement (i.e. saying someone has 7 wives and then calling them a fag in the same post). Maybe you should consider another profession…

chris says:

Re: a boi yoi yoi

no need to be a jackass. mormons haven’t done polygamy for over a hundred years. you say you go to law school and get good grades, yet you can’t come up with anything outside of an extremely outdated and irrelevant insult. i’d say its more likely that you’re some butthurt teenager that doesn’t like to hear that video games aren’t the best thing you could do with your time.

from the other way around department says:

has any one involved in this study thought of this way?
instead of blaming games for such “bad attributes”, maybe those “bad attributes” are the reason why those ppl play games in the first place.

i know what i said above makes it sound like gaming is a plague or something but that is not what im trying to say.

what im trying to say is:
im willing to accept the data he is giving us (for the sake of argument), which leads me to question how he is interpreting them.

He compared gamers to non gamers, and he decided that is the only 2 differences between the two groups.

how about taking a group of non gamers doing the same study on them once that is done let them start gaming and monitor there progress. if what he states in his article is correct those “model citizen” will turn to very very bad ppl.

in fact I bet if a study like im talking about is ever done the subjects will either not enjoy gaming, or the post-gaming studies will give the same results as the pre-gaming studies.

Logan says:

games can increase your intelligence

My son was brought up with games from an early age, by the time he was 12 he had the reading age of a 16 year old, thanks to Tony Hawk and other games. He plays them in moderation and it doesnt stop him comunicating! Ive played games most of my 35years on this planet and havent gone round shooting anyone yet.

Its just another excuse for these researchers to validate the next years grant

Anonymous Coward says:

Whom do I believe?!

“Everything we found associated with video games came out negative”

I remember another University researching video games and found EVERYTHING to be positive. Being that *most* things in life aren’t inherently bad for a person, I will side with the “it must be good” group.

In other news, people who breathe air are more likely to get lung cancer. On a related topic, people who are alive are more likely to have something bad happen to them than people who are not alive. We recommend not doing anything, especially breathing, and hopefully you will not live long enough to have something bad happen to you.

Seems not breathing can kill people, make sure you breathe a lot to compensate for use telling you not to breathe.

OMG! panic! breathing a lot can cause you to faint, stop breathing!

Bradley Stewart (profile) says:


Don’t these people have anything better to do than constantly pandering to their constitutants. I have listened to a lot of these Congresional Hearings. These people have no idea what they are talking about. The only reason that they talk about things like this is because they figure it will pick them up some votes in the next election.

sf suave says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m sorry Yakko, but citicising someone for hiding behind an anonymous comment doesn’t really hold water when you yourself use an alias (as I have). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with comment, just don’t think you’re in a position to criticise the anonymous poster for being just as anonymous as you.

With regard to the study, all they have achieved is to prove the point they set out to prove in the first place. Anyone who has ever done any kind of research into human behaviour knows that you must select a test group that comprises elements from as wide and varied a cross-section of society as possible. Only that way can you get anything like a true “result”. Selecting these college kids “may” support their claims, however, only so far as they can be applied to this element of society. Ergo – college kids are more likely to play video games and smoke pot – d’uh

Yakko Warner says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’ll submit that, since I use this alias consistently, it’s less anonymous than simply not providing one at all.

However, your point is taken. 😉

My opinion on the study has already been adequately expressed by others’ comments all over this, though; I think they went into this study with a whole lot of bias, and their sample set was selected to confirm that bias.

Pwned says:


I’m an avid video game player who has grown up around gaming my entire life. I have never smoked pot, never been fat, and never once thought of killing my parents. I’m also and ivy league MBA with a wife, job, and home at age 25. I have plenty of friends and good relationships.

Sadly, this study is done with obvious political and potentially religious agenda. The number of fallacies in the methods used is unbelievable. First of all, they never defined the parameters. One persons definition of “worse” or “better” is different than anothers. Loose terms without definition only help to sway a study towards the hypothesis of the giver. The little disclaimer at the end was priceless. If video games were truly harmful, like smoking for example, and this study was so foolproof that it showed that, then why not get the government regulations on the way! Unless of course your study isn’t entirely conclusive and you did it to further your academic career on a media hot-button as well as pursue a religious and political agenda with an oddly convenient upcoming court trial. This degree of academic mediocrity and so called “study” is ridiculous and any judge or jury that would use this study as evidence is being brainwashed. Any person who would believe is pre-biased, and any lawyer who would use this study is normal. (Little law joke there, kidding, sort of.)

To make this study even MORE sad, THEY ONLY INTERVIEWED COLLEGE STUDENTS. 100% of which were unmarried and living outside their parents home with an average age of 20!! Well now, I wonder if thats a point in normal human behavior at which family relationships, pot smoking, and lowered grades are at peaks ANYWAY! What has been done is essentially taking the most wayward part of most humans lives and assigned a video game moto on top of it as the blame. College kids have free time, they are going to do irresponsible stuff with it. Its the first time alone where they are responsible, they are going to abuse it. It’s part of the process. No way should this hotbed of experimentation be used for a rational study, especially on human behavior in regards to a stimulus, in this case, video games.


Matt says:

Stupid linkage

Many of those factors could easily be confounds for the others.

Bad relationship with family –> could be a result of drug use, could be a result of low self-esteem, etc.

As said before, video games seem to be a choice of people with low-self confidence and who are socially withdrawn because they can interact with people without having that face-to-face interaction that gets their heart racing and throat closing up. I’ve always been taught to look at how they did the study, and ask questions, and there are a ton of big questions that come from this. Show me 10 kids who play video games that are pot smokers, and I’ll show you 50 who play video games and are not smokers. Bad study trying to prove a preconceived idea from the get-go

Spacemanbob (profile) says:


I play video games…MMO’s to be exact. I spend time on them, talking to people and have developed some nice friendships with them. Hmmmm…. I also have friends in town that I go and visit with at least two weekends a month and have a wonderful relationship with them. Per women. Well, I am not seeing anyone right now but that is my choice since I am setting some priorities to get in shape first. I also ride mountain bikes 20 miles once or twice a month, Hike with friends… Hmmm

I guess I need to smoke pot to understand why he thinks it is so bad for you.


Superfli95 says:

Mormon Bashing

…and the Mormon bashing begins…

Some of you act like BYU is the first and only place where a study on the bad effects of video games has been published…

I have to echo the response here on the forum…I think these sorts of studies are stupid and legislation limiting the use or sale of video games would be counter productive. It is the same sort of logic that is applied to all sorts of other legislation. Basically, these laws say, “People are stupid and have no control over there own actions, so we should force them to live the way we deem ‘best’.” Examples of such legislation: If you eat a lot of fast food, you get fat and suffer ill effects of being overweight = we should outlaw fast food (or tax the crap out of it), some murderous jerks kill people = lets take guns, knives, and all ‘dangerous’ objects away from EVERYBODY, then you got the people who want to limit internet use and video games based on similar ‘logic’.

This crap is nothing new. Its been around forever. Usually its done by vindictive people who want popularity or power. Hitler blamed Germany’s problems on Jews. Today’s politicians blame -fill in the blank here- (big business, video games, internet, global warming) for all our current problems.

Buzz says:

I am a Mormon myself, but dang, I hate it when BYU does stuff like this. This is clearly fueled by an agenda of mothers frustrated with kids playing too many video games. “Maybe if we get some scientific study of how bad games are, I can ban it for health reasons, just like I ban cigarettes and alcohol.”

When are people going to learn? ANYTHING in excess is bad. I am a video game expert. In fact, I am studying to one day have a job in game development. Meanwhile, I have been married for more than two years, and I now have a baby girl. Yup, I’m really screwed up.

An Academic says:

BYU not really academia

One comment left so far tried to link the BYU research with academic research. BYU is one of the most academically-restrictive universities to work for in the country. Besides the mandated religious litmus test for students and staff, they also have no problem of firing professors who step outside their values box. So please don’t try to relate their “study” with true studies at academic institutions, it insults true scientifically based research everywhere.

Freshe-Bakked says:

Re: BYU not really academia

It’s funny how BYU is noted or seems to have such a litmus test framed within beliefs of the staff, teachers, professors and (most) students, and it’s painted as a “bad” thing…and you can also have a left-wing/neo-socialist/communist litmus test in places like UC Berkeley, where you’ll get run-out of CalBerkeley if you don’t walk in lock-step to their agenda as well.

Pot – Meet Kettle

Superfli95 says:


Mormons don’t agree with science… no surprises here.

What? I happen to be Mormon and a PhD in EEE with background in Physics. I spent part of my education at BYU. Are you truly serious? Or is that just the bigot speaking inside you?

by jonnyq – Jan 26th, 2009 @ 6:49am

“Brigham Young University would put out a report claiming that video games are bad for you”…

And television.

A Mormon invented TV…

And caffeine. I’ll admit some zealots might say caffeine is prohibited by our doctrine, but it’s not.

And boxers. I don’t know what this means so I will cover my bases: #1 Go Miguel Cotto!! #2 Those(when well trained) are nice dogs. #3 Comfortable undergarment. What about any of these am I not suppose to like?

The Lecturer says:

Reefer Madness....reefer madness...

It’s time for parents to take a stand for the preservation of this great land. Till the things that scare us are burned or banned, or smashed to smithereens! And once the reefer has been destroyed, we’ll start on Darwin and Sigmund Freud, and sex depicted on celluloid, and communists and queens!
When danger’s near, exploit their fear! The end will justify the means!

Reefer madness….reefer madness…Creeping like a communist, it’s knocking at our doors, turning all our children into hooligans and whores!

asdf says:

I’m an avid gamer, probably 4 hours a day unless something more important comes up. I don’t smoke, drink, do any sort of drugs. I get 3.0+ grades, and have a high paying job for just getting out of school, and even a longtime gf. Not to brag of course.

This study is full of failure. “lets make a study and ignore all the exceptions”

Anonymous Coward says:

Since many people go to games when their IRL life already sucks (poor relationships, low self esteem, etc), I wonder how much of this is ’cause’ rather then ‘effect’.

edited to add:

Ok, it looks like the researcher was explicit in saying that this is correlation NOT causation and that more research would be needed to dig into that issue. I quote:

The study didn’t allow Jensen and Walker to determine whether video games are drawing college-age adults away from social settings or if they are a way for those already struggling with relationships to spend their time. Walker guesses both are at play.

Looking over it, this really is not a bad study and I think people are overreacting to it. This is a pure gathering data piece and does not claim to show causation, prove anything, or even claim which dirrection the connections go in.

I think many of the reactions in this thread make gamers look pretty bad actually. Someone finds some negative connections and people immediatly jump to the conclusion that it is BS. This is no better then when JT picks which ones to believe and which ones to dismiss as not fitting with his world view.

Thomas says:

WTF says that,,,

Older people tend to blame what they do not understand on technology.. “its the root of all evil”. Its a total stereotype, and any real study would be able to see past the fact that its not the games that are distroying the lives (I’m not saying that pot distroys lives) Its the distroyed lives playing games.. (although I have had more then a dozen good friends who I used to see on a daily basis who purchased the game Evercrack and were never to be seen again in public). It was weird as one by one they all vanished exactly on the day they purchased the game,, This strange phenomon spooked me so much that I never purchased the game.. (This story is from my actual life and not a episode of the Twilight Zone).. Spooky eh,, (I bet a lot of you could relate to this very story).. Don’t get me wrong here, as Playing video games has its own inner society and is very healthy as unlike in the real life you can MUTE, you can BLOCK USER, and in some cases you can even ban them from the world all together,, I bet theres a lot of you non gamers who would love to do this in real life… Perm Ban from the bar you abnoxious DRUNK, Or Banned from the highway for life..

VGW (user link) says:

Defensive Gamers

First off….Why are gamers so damn defensive every time someone brings this topic up? It is okay for people to have a difference of opinion.

I’m really undecided about this topic and kinda believe that gaming in moderation is fine. On the other hand moderation has a different definition for everyone. I get annoyed with my husband when he is playing video games instead of hanging out with his family.

I’d like to know how many gamers have families? and do your significant others ever get annoyed with your habit of video gaming? If not, how do you balance out your time?

Also, my husband definitely isn’t violent and doesn’t smoke pot. However, I think the self-esteem point is dead on and the habit has obviously strained his relationship with others.

The devil himself says:

The only way things like this are ever going to go away is if one group of people in this argument die.There I said it.Not that i’m incouraging people to kill other people i’m just saying that it’s damn near impossible to convince someone to change their’s impossible to get someone to change their beliefs because usually they are just using those beliefs to give themselves an excuse to cover up their own personal feelings on a matter.example, people who are anti gay.they usually say stuff like it’s wrong because god says it’s wrong right?But this does not apply across the board.God says having sex before marraige is wrong but they don’t turn people who commit adultery into social pariahs.You know why?because they don’t find it disgusting.You see for some odd reason people have to validate their hatred and intolerance.The real reason anti gay people don’t like gays is not because god says it’s wrong, but simply that they thinks it’s disgusting no other reason.The reason anti video game people don’t like video games is because they think it’s weird.Everything they do stems from trying to validate this feeling.This applies to everybody on both sides of the equation.beliefs are just are way of rationalizing and defending our fellings against those of other people.So what i’m saying is you might as well get used to dealing with people like jack thompson because they are going to be around for a long time and there is nothing you can do to get rid of them.

Ken Smith says:

in moderation

Well, I think games played in moderation will do you no harm so there’s nothing to worry about, right? These video games can actually alleviates stress, they can serve as brain exercise thus improving your memory and they can help you cope up in this time of financial crisis, check this article and you’ll see what I’m talking about. 🙂

NuttyNuts says:

As a parent...

I think as a parent, I’d rather have my child be addicted to games which I have the control over with rather than my kid be involved in drugs. I have the power to monitor my kid’s computer usage compared to him using drugs behind my back. I have read an article – wherein it was discussed a game helped a student in his financial crisis in real life and it somewhat gave me a new outlook in games.

Anonymous Coward says:

no need to be a jackass. mormons haven’t done polygamy for over a hundred years. you say you go to law school and get good grades, yet you can’t come up with anything outside of an extremely outdated and irrelevant insult. i’d say its more likely that you’re some butthurt teenager that doesn’t like to hear that video games aren’t the best thing you could do with your time.

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