Study Of 11K Children: Video Games Probably Don't Alter Behavior
from the welcome-results dept
As humanity continues to grapple with the question of how video games impact behavior in children, we find ourselves with no shortage of studies. From the Macbeth Effect, to the studies themselves causing aggression, to studies directly looking at a potential link between violent games and real-life violence, we have plenty of data points, yet the results tend to range from ambiguous to non-existent. That tends to be a problem for everyone involved, because it creates an intelligence vacuum ripe to be filled with supposition and grand-standing. What we really need is more studies of a longer nature and with a greater sample size that go further in demonstrating a concrete answer.
Here to provide a study of a longer nature and with a greater sample size to demonstrate a concrete answer is the University of Glasgow, who used Great Britain’s enormous ten-year Millenium Cohort Study to study the link or absence of a link between playing video games and real-life behavior. Their findings were a resounding affirmation for all of us who believe in common sense.
TV is generally thought of as more harmless than video games when it comes to the emotional health of kids but the Glasgow study found that “watching TV for 3 h or more daily at 5 years predicted increasing conduct problems between the ages of 5 years and 7 years.” No corollary effect was found with video games, likely because parents are more likely to monitor or regulate video game screen time than TV screen time.
This indicates a couple of things. First, parents are likely way too wary of video games compared to television. And second, while one might suggest that the vigilance shown to games by parents is a mitigating factor, the fact remains that the study showed a minor correlation in television and none in games. So, whatever your quibbles, the practical reality of video games in society is one that has no discernible effect on child behavior.
That said, because this is science, we wouldn’t want to suggest that this ends the debate entirely.
As with any study, there are caveats. This isn’t a be-all, end-all set of findings. The authors themselves say that “the study highlights the need for more detailed data to explore risks of various forms of screen time, including exposure to screen violence.” Nevertheless, given the breadth of data drawn from 10 years and more than 10,000 participants, this could be an important cornerstone for future research and conversations about how video games do—or do not—affect behavior.
In other words, also because this is science, it should be noted that it is incumbent upon those claiming there is a link to show their evidence for that position. Studies like this are going to be a problem for that side of the debate moving forward. While it may be very hard to prove a negative, it’s not as difficult to show a void of evidence for the position that behavior and video games are linked.