Violent Video Games, Weak Statistics And Sensationalistic Headlines
from the details-please? dept
It seems one of the more controversial areas of study lately surrounds violent video games. It seems like every few months a new study comes out, and the results are always sensationalized, even if the details of the study usually don't add up to very much. Much more telling is the fact that as graphically violent video games have become more popular, incidents of youth violence continue to drop when you would expect it to go the other way. Obviously, this is an area that could use more research -- but so much of it seems to have serious problems. The latest "research" has come out on violent video games, and it's grabbing lots of headlines, claiming that violent video games are linked to "risky behaviors" and increase paranoia. Other headlines point out the "major public health issue" and the "negative impact on youth". Of course, the most sensationalistic claim is that somehow this study suggests violent video games make young males more likely to smoke marijuana. Of course, given that the effects of marijuana are supposed to make people less likely to go out and do stuff, it would seem to go against the view that violent video games lead to actual violence. Either way, it would seem that the press covering this story might want to dig a bit deeper into the facts. The study involves a fairly small sample size (100 young men) to start. Also, the fact that playing such games increases your blood pressure seems sort of obvious. People who are engaged in a video game are likely to have their blood pressure rise. That just means they're really engaged in the game. As for the "leads to pot smoking" claim, this one deserves the most investigation -- and one person who claims to have seen the study (if anyone has a copy, we'd love to check it out) says that what the study actually showed was that both the violent video gaming group and the control group said that marijuana was bad for your health on a six point scale. It's just that the violent video game play group found it slightly less bad. To suggest that this means violent video gamers are more likely to actually engage in such things seems like a huge stretch -- but it sure makes for good headlines.