Dr. Oz Claims Violent Video Games 'Hurt' Teens; Backs Up Claims With Absolutely Nothing At All

from the Wii-Sports-awarded-custody-of-teens-after-years-of-abuse-by-CoD dept

You know what people just absolutely love? When someone makes bold proclamations and then dances off into the ether without providing a single supporting source for their statements. You'd think someone highly touted in the medical community would at least be able to provide a link or a searchable source for something as brash as this, but from the looks of it, you'd be the only one thinking.

Via Gamepolitics comes this delightfully horrible column, written by Dr. Mehmet Oz (TV's "Dr. Oz") and his colleague, Dr. Mike Roizen (chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute). Its title makes an unequivocal statement before moving on at a breakneck pace to its conclusion, utilizing a combination of unsourced stats and unproven conjecture.

Here's the title:

It's official (again)- violent video games hurt teens
A quick read through the column (and it is a quick read) shows that Oz and Roizen aren't too keen on providing any sort of backup for this claim (much less the fact that it's "again"). Nowhere in the 300 words or so will you find links, quotes or citations of any sort. Here's the opening paragraph, which gives readers some insight into the doctors' mindset, but not much else.
Call of Duty: Black Ops (dismembered limbs, obscene language, torture) and Hitman: Absolution (can you really absolve a hit man?) -- $13.6 billion is spent annually in North America so that more than 210 million folks can play video games like these. Many of those players are younger than 18, and that's, you know, way bad for kids and teens.
No. I don't know. Perhaps if you could point me to some research (preferably nothing by Craig Anderson) that shows how video games are "way bad" for kids and teens. Also, a majority of the 210 million gamers are over the age of 18, which is who these games are targeted at (and rated for).

But let's not dwell on the lack of evidence indicating games hurt teens (again) by "fueling aggressive behavior, dulling empathy and causing sleep problems." (Parents: are your teens aggressive, self-centered and up all hours of the night? Welcome to Life with a Teenager, a.k.a. Why the Hell Did I Decide to Have Kids? Take away video games and I would imagine the hormonal developments, myopic worldview common to that age group and erratic sleep patterns wouldn't be altered in any significant fashion.)

Let's move on to the doctors' next point, which is also dropped unceremoniously (and without sources) into the mix.
And if you think you know what's going on with your kids, think again. Most parents say they're pretty sure of what their kids are doing online, but 50 percent of kids report having inappropriate-age-rated games ("M" for "mature" and "AO" for "adults only") among their often-played favorites.
And this "50 percent" was determined how? Rounding up the interns and asking them what percentage of a whole would they find both "scary" and "believable?" Who would dispute this "finding?" Who could dispute this "finding?" There's nothing to work with.

It would be one thing if a psychologist made a few unsourced claims based on first-hand experience with the subject matter (kids, video games), but when a surgeon and a chief medical officer make bold statements about the effect of violent games on kids, they need to bring a little bit more to the discussion than a willingness to fill a column with words.

On the plus side, the doctors don't take the government or retailers to task for kids' access to M-rated games. (Though I wonder where these kids are getting "AO" games... Certainly not from any major retailer.) Instead, they ask parents to get involved and aim children towards other activities, rather than allowing the Xbox/PS3/Wii to fill in as full-time caregivers. This is the only part of the column that actually contains good advice and no ridiculous, unsourced statements.

Maybe this substance-free column is an offshoot of Dr. Oz's love of homeopathy -- the weaker the sources, the stronger the argument. No sources at all possibly means his proclamations are completely unassailable. Well played, sir.

Filed Under: mehmet oz, mike roizen, video games, violence, violent video games

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2013 @ 8:29pm

    Re: Ah, a minion back to Techdirt's anti-moral panics.

    Go ahead. Show a violent video game that has promoted the Iraq War, if you're so obsessively milking that. (Hey, joe, why aren't you debating blue with his milky milky lactatey?)

    I'll be waiting.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

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