Studies

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
canada, movies, parents, tv, video games



Can Someone Explain How Video Games Are Worse For Kids Than Plain TV?

from the demonizing-video-games dept

For years, video games have been a convenient bogeyman/scapegoat for politicians to use in complaining about the sort of thing "kids these days" do on a daily basis. In the past, it's been other things -- from TV to music to comic books. But, these days, video games pop up an awful lot. So I guess it should come as no surprise at all that a recent study in Canada found that parents put much greater limits on how much time kids can spend playing video games than they do on TV or movies. Of course, this seems entirely backwards. Not that parents should let young kids just randomly play any video game, but if they're playing age-appropriate video games, you would think that would be a lot better than just sitting there watching TV with no interactivity whatsoever. Plenty of studies have shown that the interactivity of video games helps kids have better hand-eye coordination and (in some studies) problem solving skills. So why not encourage that? It's not examined in the study, but I'd guess that the constant complaining about these "awful video games" has an impact on a busy parent.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    TheStupidOne, 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:02pm

    I was severely limited in my video gaming time growing up in spite of the fact that I was active in several sports and had very good grades. So one day when I was over my quota for the day (or maybe week) and it was raining outside (so no going out) I asked my dad what was better for me: sitting in front of a TV mindlessly absorbing whatever was on, or sitting in front of a TV actively playing a game that involved some level of problem solving ability.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ryan, 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:08pm

      Re:

      WTF dude, you can't leave us on that cliffhanger. What'd he say?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Joe, 6 Jul 2009 @ 4:36pm

      Re:

      How did that work out for you?

      I myself wasn't limited in my video game playing as long as I was doing well in school and did all my homework. Granted I was in a sport every season (3 per year) throughout highschool. So I was pretty busy, but I did get a decent amount of gaming in (when i was single) so overall I have no complaints.

      The only limiting thing my parents did was refuse to buy me games that were in the news for being overly explicit, or if I already owned them they would take them away. That was annoying but not the end of the world. (like some kids tend to say in court when they lose their precious halo 3)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Easily Amused, 6 Jul 2009 @ 6:36pm

      Re:

      AAUUUUGHHH the suspense... it's killing me....

      right now i look like Dramatic Hamster

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        TheStupidOne, 6 Jul 2009 @ 9:30pm

        Re: Re:

        Success ... he just laughed and said I should think about being a lawyer. Instead I'm an engineer.

        I did get to play my games

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dkp, 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:02pm

    no

    no I can't. as long as the games are age appropriate. the problem is the parents who buy games that have a mature rating for twelve year old kid. this is political grandstanding

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:03pm

    Immersion factor

    it's the 'immersion factor' -- kids can get engrossed in a tv show and ignore their entire world (such as the parents yelling "Suppertime") -- but when you're doing something interactive (like a video game) you REALLY get immersed in it -- to the extreme irritation of the parents. It's one thing when the kid gets upset about missing the last 5 minutes of his show, it's totally another when the kid's played for the past 2 hours and if he leaves now, he'll lose everything (because the last savepoint was an hour & a half ago, etc.)

    Kids tend to get very upset when they're forced to turn off the game in cases like that - and between the parents being mad 'cause they're being ignored, and the kids being mad 'cause the parents just don't understand, and they just beat that big bad guy they've been trying to defeat for the past 2 weeks, and they just want to hit that savepoint first, etc... things escalate in a hurry and all of a sudden everyone is screaming at each other (or worse).

    From the (non-videogame player) parent's point of view, it's all the videogame's fault that their precious little snowflake has turned into a demon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:16pm

      Re: Immersion factor

      "From the (non-videogame player) parent's point of view, it's all the videogame's fault that their precious little snowflake has turned into a [cyber]demon."

      Well, if the parents would play a game now and then they'd know to just BFG that sumbitch while shift-running and they'd be all set.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Zaven (profile), 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:58pm

      Re: Immersion factor

      Maybe the parents should play the game too and figure out there's a pause button.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Valkor, 6 Jul 2009 @ 3:08pm

        Re: Re: Immersion factor

        MMOs don't have a pause button, you insensitive clod!

        Of course, MMOs can have the greatest amount of personal interaction and team strategy, too, so YMMV.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Brian (profile), 6 Jul 2009 @ 3:26pm

      Re: Immersion factor

      Not a bad point. I'd wager there's a bit more of an understanding with interrupting TV (on the half hour) than video games (by save point) that'll be an ease of conflict thing. It's a lot easier for a parent to know the kid's "show" and tell them to get away from the TV knowing the schedule.

      Honestly what parents should be doing with this is setting time limits and having those limits be hardlined. As in, daddy's going to turn the Wii off at 7:30pm and if you didn't budget your time right to hit a save point that's tough.

      A friend of mine with a couple younglings doesn't allow TV or video games at all from Sunday at 8pm until Friday when they get home from school. Computer usage for school work is naturally exempt. That might be a little draconian for a teenager, but before that the little squirt should just succumb to your rule ;)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      unbrokenrabbit, 6 Jul 2009 @ 4:19pm

      Re: Immersion factor

      I don't think that the scenario you've laid out here is a video game problem, it sounds more like a parenting problem. The precious little snowflake has turned into a demon because the parent has allowed him to become one. As I read this post I remembered being in this exact position as a kid. My parents knew next to nothing about video games and had no concept of how badly I would want to finish up a small section of a game as they were calling for me to come to dinner, do chores, etc. But what they did manage to do in years prior was establish the fact that they were to be obeyed when they told me to do something. I didn't enjoy cutting myself off at these critical points, but I quickly learned to do so without much complaining on my part. If things had ever escalated to the point where I was screaming at my parents over something as insignificant as a video game, that would have been, without question, the last video game I was allowed to play. Or at least it would have been until they felt I had gained a little perspective on what is and what is not worth arguing with them about. For them to shy away from maintaining discipline out of fear that their requests would make me angry and lead to a confrontation is completely ridiculous and would have undermined their role of authority as parents. They set the rules, they set the tone, and I operated within that framework until I was able to show that I was capable of making good decisions. Then the rules would get relaxed to give me a little more freedom.

      As to the overall point of the post though, I don't think that there's a whole lot of value in comparing the benefits of TV to the benefits of video games. Like most forms of entertainment, they should each be enjoyed in moderation. Video games probably have a slight edge in benefit due to their interactive nature, but if you're devoting enough time to video games to actually notice this benefit you're probably just spending too much time playing them on the whole. And now that I think about it, I feel like most games that I've played in the last 5 - 10 years are designed to be just challenging enough to maintain the player's interest. They don't really require the player to dig deep intellectually. So there's probably some degree of problem solving to take away from a game, but I don't believe it to be all that significant. That's not based on anything but personal experience (nor is anything else in my response now that I think about it), but I feel that there are much more effective ways of developing problem solving skills.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      unbrokenrabbit, 6 Jul 2009 @ 4:19pm

      Re: Immersion factor

      I don't think that the scenario you've laid out here is a video game problem, it sounds more like a parenting problem. The precious little snowflake has turned into a demon because the parent has allowed him to become one. As I read this post I remembered being in this exact position as a kid. My parents knew next to nothing about video games and had no concept of how badly I would want to finish up a small section of a game as they were calling for me to come to dinner, do chores, etc. But what they did manage to do in years prior was establish the fact that they were to be obeyed when they told me to do something. I didn't enjoy cutting myself off at these critical points, but I quickly learned to do so without much complaining on my part. If things had ever escalated to the point where I was screaming at my parents over something as insignificant as a video game, that would have been, without question, the last video game I was allowed to play. Or at least it would have been until they felt I had gained a little perspective on what is and what is not worth arguing with them about. For them to shy away from maintaining discipline out of fear that their requests would make me angry and lead to a confrontation is completely ridiculous and would have undermined their role of authority as parents. They set the rules, they set the tone, and I operated within that framework until I was able to show that I was capable of making good decisions. Then the rules would get relaxed to give me a little more freedom.

      As to the overall point of the post though, I don't think that there's a whole lot of value in comparing the benefits of TV to the benefits of video games. Like most forms of entertainment, they should each be enjoyed in moderation. Video games probably have a slight edge in benefit due to their interactive nature, but if you're devoting enough time to video games to actually notice this benefit you're probably just spending too much time playing them on the whole. And now that I think about it, I feel like most games that I've played in the last 5 - 10 years are designed to be just challenging enough to maintain the player's interest. They don't really require the player to dig deep intellectually. So there's probably some degree of problem solving to take away from a game, but I don't believe it to be all that significant. That's not based on anything but personal experience (nor is anything else in my response now that I think about it), but I feel that there are much more effective ways of developing problem solving skills.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2016 @ 6:25pm

      Re: Immersion factor

      you are retarted

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:06pm

    Wow

    "Can Someone Explain How Video Games Are Worse For Kids Than Plain TV?"

    Swear to God, I read that 3 times with my mouth open before I realized that didn't say, "...than Palin TV?".

    Because I'll tell you this, regardless of your political affiliations, there could be NOTHING worse than Palin TV.

    Unless it was on the Spice Channel.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:32pm

    Not surprised.

    66 years of Television Ad dollars can fund mysteriously lopsided studies and buy off politicians.

    Were you expecting something else?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:42pm

    Wasn't there a write-up on TechDirt about a year ago that established a positive link between video game players and social skills? The non-video game playing kids were the anti-social ones and the loners and the study sounded legitimate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bob, 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:48pm

    No.

    "Can Someone Explain How Video Games Are Worse For Kids Than Plain TV?"

    No. Even discussing it lends credibility to the notion.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JJ, 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:48pm

    One problem

    The games available today are generally even more inane than childrens' television is. Of course there are exceptions, but not nearly enough... yet.

    I read somewhere (it may well have been here) that historically, movies only came to be treated (by viewers and creators) as a serious art form when the government stopped censoring them. Even today, movies in Europe are less censored than movies here in the US, and on average (I think most people would agree) European films tend to have more artistic value/integrity, and are approached as an art rather than simply as a spectacle.

    Maybe when they stop censoring video games, they'll be elevated to an art as well, and then I'd feel better about letting my (theoretical future) kids play them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Non-coward, 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:52pm

    Why. Because the games can be addicting. Too much of anything is bad.
    I'd hate for my kid to be ACTIVELY killing within context of a video game.

    But I have no kids... so what do I know

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Rob R. (profile), 6 Jul 2009 @ 3:23pm

      Re:

      But I have no kids... so what do I know

      Experience will teach you. Kids are GOING to have play warfare. While I do agree that moderation is a good idea - what is the difference if a kid is "actively killing" within context of a video game, or "actively killing" being outside and using a stick as a rifle/sword/grenade/lasergun/whatever? I have 3 kids and they'll use anything to mock a weapon. Guns, swords, or if they have nothing handy they wave their arms around and it's karate or casting magical spells.

      Let them have their imagination and social interaction. Use moderation to vary it and get them to experience new things, but let them play games.

      This does NOT extend to games where they are pimping whores and shooting the police. The line does need to be drawn somewhere, after all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Non-coward, 6 Jul 2009 @ 2:53pm

    Why. Because the games can be addicting. Too much of anything is bad.
    I'd hate for my kid to be ACTIVELY killing within context of a video game.

    But I have no kids... so what do I know

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sharon, 6 Jul 2009 @ 3:03pm

    for Gods sake, send them out playing some footie in the rain - bet there are no studies to show long term damage caused by some good old fashioned playing with friends (except maybe a few bruises and black eyes from disagreements).
    I think everything in moderation is the message we have to read here, a bit of tv, a bit of gaming, a bit of footie isn't going to damage anyone's intellect. However, both TV and Gaming are detrimental to intellect, literacy, socialising etc if used excessively. Particularly if inappropriately aged material is allowed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cognivore, 6 Jul 2009 @ 4:16pm

    Video games are preferable

    But only if they're supervised by the adult to make sure they're not as banal as the majority of TV.

    My son's play Zelda, Advanced Wars, Mario Kart, and about a dozen games I have bought for them. Every one of them is preferable than TV. Heck, even Plants vs. Zombies is better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ChrisB (profile), 6 Jul 2009 @ 9:44pm

    800 lb gorilla

    Of course, neither TV nor video games compare with the real corrupting factor: the internet. Your 13-year-old son, with the computer in his room, has looked at more porn than you have in your whole life. If your daughter has a web-cam, her boobs are on someones computer.

    Oh for the good ol' brain-rotting TV days.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ChrisH, 7 Jul 2009 @ 10:03am

    Screen Time

    In our household our kids have screen time this is the total time in front of any screen (ie computer, DS, video, TV). After they use up their screen time ( they can choose what screens thay want to be in front of) they have to go out and play, have frinds over, play board games, read a book.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    known coward, 7 Jul 2009 @ 11:27am

    to answer mike's question

    Video games are a hot medium, that requires active participation and therefore desensitizes the little demons to the violence and hell that is super Mario death match. Giving them an invested emotional interest in Yoshi's death. TV is a cool medium that the little demons do not pay as much attention too and are not living the destruction of Aliens or predators, and therefore do not have an emotional connection in stomping the life out of little yoshi.

    I do not buy it, but in my perfect world, professional wrestling would not be on TV and any act that relied on hitting people in the back of the head with a folding chair as entertainment would have the whole lot being arrested and jailed for assault and battery.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lady Gaga, 8 Apr 2010 @ 4:02pm

    VG vs. TV

    i play Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 at least 1-3 hours a day and im 12. i bought it with my own money and my mom didnt care about it being rated mature. she didnt try to stop me but now she complains ALL THE TIME. sometimes when i wake up the system isnt where it was where i left it. they say video games are worse than tv. does that make sense? its just lights flashing in a box. video games have more interactivity.

    im passing all my classes and i tried out for baseball. they tell me to go to my friends houses but they live to far away to walk or bike. they tell me to get their phone # but i dont have a cell phone to call/text them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Juan, 29 Aug 2010 @ 10:08pm

    All you need to know and then some

    I know why. Parents have been growing up with tv (unless they dont watch it much or are old and/or poor ). They don understand that video games are actuley better than tv. some also think that they teach there "litle sweety pie" violent behavior but so does tv! violenc can be easily avoided with video games just like a V chip in a tv. its as easy as looking at the ratings on the box. on most games, they have a rating printed. here are the ratings: 1-EC (early childhood) this is a edicational game created for ages 3-5. E (everyone) these games contain maybe minor cartoon violence but nothing bad. they are recomended for ages 6-10. E+10 (everybody ten and up) this has the same content as E but with more graphic violence and very, very low cussing (hell, damn) T (Teen) these games show minor blood effects, violence, cussing (words like hell,damn, and ass) and are recommended for ages 12-14. M (mature) these games contain blood, gore, strong language(hell, damn ass, fuck, shit, etc.), and partial nudity(nothing like extreme nude things) these are recommended for ages 15-18. last is the mother of all messes, Rated AO (adults only) this contains all the content rated M has but with full nudity. only (not recommended, but for ONLY) for ages 18 and up. (respect you state pornogrophy laws) anyways... video games are better than tv because they teach hand- eye cordination and awareness. some games are even teach what you would hear in a classroom!(educational games brain age, brain-busters, mad libs ds, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sam allen, 16 Dec 2012 @ 7:15pm

    Personnaly i play video games because it is my escape. I play to forget the jerks in life, or the stress at school. Without it i would break, i eventually would just break down. I also like the social aspect of talking to my friends over xbox live. I only enjoy playing when im talking to my friends.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2015 @ 9:00pm

    Sport over a life time does cause damage to joints and tendons etc. Each sport has different risks etc. Each sport has different risks etc. Some of these risks can happen during play, just look at all the kids that die every year playing rugby or american football. Others don't become apparent until your older. The two sports mentioned above can leave people nearly crippled by the time they are 30 even if no major accidents happen. The body is not designed to that kind of wear and abuse. Largely having good genetics and proper training can help prevent this, but does your local school invest in the latest training methods etc? I'm not saying that sport is bad, its essential to keep healthy, but like everything it has its risks and down sides. Do you send your child to a gymnastics club every day? Chances are later in life their bodies will be a mess and when they get into their 50s and 60s..... well, I know a few ex athletes who now live in constant pain due to the abuse their bodies went through. Do most of them regret it? No. However ask older gamers if they regret the time they spent playing you'll usually get an answer like "I'm glad I didn't spend my time focusing blankly at a TV". From what I see people seem happy to let their children sit and watch time all day, but yet get angry when the kids play games instead, only then suggesting they go out and play sports. Its something I have observed a lot, but its down to demonetization of games. People say its hard to get a child to stop playing a game? Try this experiment, put on a new episode of their favorite tv show, then 15 min before the end tell them to turn it off. If you let them put the show on its assumed they can watch it all. I think a good way to limit these problems with games is to do the same thing you do with everything else in your child's life, put a time limit on it. If they know they can only play for 2 hours on a sat and sunday, the same every week, then limit it to that. Yes they will always ask for more time, but what kid doesn't? It doesnt matter what they are doing, playing with lego, watching tv, or playing games, they will always ask for "10 more min". Why is there a special case with video games where asking for more time is extra bad?

    Final thought, if you let a child sit and watch tv for 3 hours after school every night before bed BEFORE they play video games, why is it suddenly bad that its an INTERACTIVE game with PUZZLES, STORY, CRITICAL THINKING and MORAL CHOICES(A few things out of the hat). That last one, games ram home the your choices have consequences. Lots of games do this. Yes you can do bad things in games, but most games have a consequence for that, others generally give you a different view on the situation. Im counting out games like GTA etc because children SHOULD NOT BE PLAYING these games. I played them as a child and can say it did me no harm, but they shouldn't play them for the same reasons children can't watch a lot of movies.

    I think its time for some PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY in vetting what kids get to play, not an extreme total ban.

    Just my thoughts, I hope it adds to the conversation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.