Addendum: But isn’t videogame play bad for kids?

By Anne Collier

This is an addendum to my post yesterday, “Why kids love video games & what parents can do about it”….

There has been a lot of legislation written, news stories published, and research conducted about the effects of violent videogames on kids. New laws have consistently been rejected by the courts as unconstitutional, and the research has shown that “a very small number of kids, about 3%, exhibit signs of pathological gaming,” according to the author of a meta-analysis of 33 studies on the subject, Christopher Ferguson, writing for Time. Ferguson, a psychology professor at Texas A&M University, writes that, “even while video game sales have skyrocketed, youth violence plummeted to its lowest levels in 40 years” (he sites US government statistics here). [This contrast between facts and fears reminds me of similar ones in the past, in the areas of online “predators” and cyberbullying. See this.].

Ferguson also points to problems with the early research on violent videogames’ impact. “Most studies used outcome measures that had nothing to do with real-life aggression and failed to control carefully for other important variables, such as family violence, mental health issues or even gender in many studies,” he wrote. “This was something the U.S. Supreme Court recognized when, after considering California’s attempt to ban the sale of VVG [violent videogames] to minors in Brown v. EMA, it stated on June 27, 2011, ‘These studies have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason.'” And current research “has not found that children who play VVG are more violent than other kids, nor harmed in any other identifiable fashion,” Ferguson adds. [For another perspective on violence in videogames, see this from media professor Henry Jenkins at the University of Southern California.]

Leave a comment