Getting lost in the hype is the fact that the study was conducted by the National Institute for Media and Family, a group which tends to have a somewhat negative view of video game and media usage. From their website:
"Our children are in trouble. Kids from preschool through high school are laying building blocks for success in school and life. They include self-discipline, the ability to delay gratification, perseverance, imagination, and respect. Study after study shows that poor media habits undermine every single one of these building blocks. Instead of being given the tools and experiences they need to succeed, more and more kids are shaped by a media culture that promotes more, easy, fast, fun, violence and disrespect."
Not exactly objective researchers, if you ask me.
I'm also troubled by the questions they asked children, questions such as:
- "Have you played video games as a way of escaping from problems or bad feelings?"
- "Do you sometimes skip household chores in order to spend more time playing video games?"
- "Do you sometimes skip doing homework in order to spend more time playing video games?"
- "Have you been spending much more thinking thinking about playing video games, learning about video game playing or planning the next opportunity for play?"
For the record, boys were more likely than girls to answer "yes" to these questions. In fact, 11.9% of the boys and only 2.9% of the girls answered yes to six or more of the questions asked (enough so to be classified as exhibiting "pathological video game use.").
But....What if this is just because video games still tend to skew to the male demographic? Maybe there simply aren't enough games to attract and hold young girls' attention?
And what if part of the reason boys are attracted to video games is because the rest of their environment doesn't respect their "boyness?" Our boys are growing up in a society that tells them to sit down, shut up and learn from books. BOYS ARE NOT DESIGNED THAT WAY! Boys are designed for activity and purpose, and maybe -- just maybe -- they're finding a way to feel like men in video games.
I've been reading The Purpose of Boys, and one of the things Gurian talks about is boys' need to be the hero, to serve a purpose. Are we giving our boys that chance in the world? Or are they finding it in video games? Not many of our boys today need to save their family from intruders or wild beasts; video games, though, give them that opportunity.
Is it so surprising that large numbers of boys choose video games over chores and schoolwork? And maybe even some of the more pathologically-appearing behavior can be reasonable explained: if parents put strict restrictions on a boy's video game usage, isn't he more likely to lie? To obsess about when he'll get to play next? Even to steal?
Is that, then, addiction?
As far as I'm concerned, the most important sentence in the study is this:
"The primary limitation of this study is its correlational nature. It does not provide evidence for the possible causal relations among the variables studied. It is certainly possible that pathological gaming causes poor school performance, and so forth, but it is equally likely that children who have trouble at school seek to play games to experience feelings of mastery, or that attention problems cause both poor school performance and an attraction to games. "
Tell me your opinion. What do you think of this study and the attendant media hype?
Hmmm. One in ten people who watch tv probably show signs of addiction. Or who blog. Or play golf. Or love baseball. Or, in my case as a high school girl, read for pleasure.ReplyDelete
First we have to define addiction. As I understand it, someone only becomes addictied if they have something from which they need to escape. Second, we need to look at if any homeschooled children were included in the study. I would argue immediately that none of this is applicable to boys who are homeschooled and therefore do not have to escape any of these "problems".ReplyDelete
For the record, I allow unrestricted access to TV and video games. As I write this, both of my boys are outside playing with friends, and it is raining. The TV hasn't been on all day, and the video games were on for about an hour this morning. Yes, when you first allow this, they indulge. After about 8 weeks (a tough 8 weeks!), the interest and novelty wear off.
Great post once again, I always have so much to say! Sorry about that! I look forward to commenting on your blog almost as much as writing on mine!
I'm not sure about the media hype... and I'm also not sure of any normal kid who would say nope, I would rather do my homework than play Wii. But, what I do know, is that Abby is far less likely to play any video game, from Wii to Leapster, than Nolan, who's likely to spend hours playing one of several games if I let him. Not sure why...ReplyDelete
Andrea -- I think homeschooled boys could fall into the category of wanting to escape too. There's a wide variety of homeschooling methods, but even beyond that, everyone, even homeschooled boys, experience some kind of stressors in their life at some time. I know that for my husband, video/computer games are a great way for him to wind down.ReplyDelete
Jill --Your comment really got me thinking. Maybe part of it is that boys tend to be more visually-spatially oriented than girls. And girls, in general, tend to be more into relationship building, and there's not a whole lot of THAT in most video games!
"Is it so surprising that large numbers of boys choose video games over chores and schoolwork? And maybe even some of the more pathologically-appearing behavior can be reasonable explained: if parents put strict restrictions on a boy's video game usage, isn't he more likely to lie? To obsess about when he'll get to play next? Even to steal?ReplyDelete
Is that, then, addiction?"
I keep thinking about this post. And I agree with the above mentioned quote. Great questions, and that is what I was "trying" to relate in my above comment:)
Just for fun, I went through the questions in the study and replaced "video game playing" with "reading a book." I am not sure why video games get such a bad rap. Reading a book under all of these scenarios seems lovely! What a nice way to unwind and find a release. Or replace it with "going for a walk/run". Again, I think the bias toward video games is so drilled into us that we have stopped questioning it. Never a good thing to stop questioning!!
I love video games, personally. I would have had to answer yes to a lot of those questions, marking myself as an addict, I guess. :) And I'm a girl, even! I like saving the world too! Hehehe. My kids play video games on the weekends and I feel no sorrow or guilt over this fact. Video games are FUN.ReplyDelete
I'd have to say I'm in the Pro- Video Game Camp; in fact, I encouraged both my kids to play video games. It's a great way to develop valuable 21st Century skills, and it's a fabulous way to make new friends while traveling.ReplyDelete
Somehow, despite this encouragement (or perhaps because of this) both my kids are heavy readers who are just as likely to prefer to read a good book over video games.
But, if whatever activity is labeled as homework, I can guarantee that will be the item they WON'T want to do.