Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Community News Network

November 18, 2013

Video games aren't bad for kids?

NEW YORK — The holiday shopping season is upon us, and both Sony and Microsoft have just released brand-new, long-awaited video-game consoles, which means that kids will be clamoring for RPGs and first-person shooters even more than usual this year. The eternal question: Are you a bad parent if you let them have them?

A recent study came to a surprising conclusion: Maybe not! The study, published in March and written up in Games and Learning last week, was billed as showing rather conclusively that video games are not bad for kids. The Games and Learning headline: "Game Play Has No Negative Impact on Kids, UK Study Finds." Here's the first paragraph:

A massive study of some 11,000 youngsters in Britain has found that playing video games, even as early as 5 years old, does not lead to later behavior problems.

Hooray! At last, definitive proof that kids can play all the video games they want and suffer no ill effects, right? Clearly that's a piece of news that people are itching to hear: Jane McGonigal, author of a best-selling book arguing that video games are good for us, tweeted her equally exuberant interpretation of the findings, and the response was overwhelming, with some 3,500 retweets.

Not to be a spoilsport, but before we throw in the dustbin a bunch of other studies that have found links between youth screen time and antisocial behavior, it's probably worth, you know, reading the actual paper. Which reveals that, in fact, the researchers did not track 11,000 kids for a decade. Rather, they drew their data from the broader, decade-long U.K. Millennium Cohort Study, but conducted their analysis only on a slice of data that looked at kids once at age 5 and then again at age 7.

I pointed this out to McGonigal, and she acknowledged the mistake, implying that she hadn't yet read the actual paper when she first tweeted about it. Presumably, neither did most of the 3,500 people who retweeted her - nor the authors of several other blog posts and articles that have picked up on Games and Learning's post, including MSN UK, Slashgear, Nintendo Life, Kotaku.au and more. The worst offender so far is the video-game site IGN, which ran with the following absurd headline: "Games Definitely Don't Harm Kids, Says Huge Study."

That is definitely not what the study said.

Rather, the researchers looked specifically at whether kids in the Millennium Cohort Study who played a lot of video games at age 5 had grown substantially worse in their behavior by age 7 compared to those who did not. The behavioral outcomes were based on the kids' mothers' assessments, and the researchers controlled for a wide array of factors, including income and family structure. Their goal: to see whether video games and/or television alone could be linked to negative changes in behavior over a two-year period from age 5 to age 7.

They did find some links between TV screen time and deteriorating behavior, but they did not find a link between video-game time and bad behavior (or ADHD, or emotional problems, or any of the other bugaboos that in the past have been ascribed to childhood screen exposure). Again, that doesn't mean the kids who played lots of video games at age 5 were all perfect angels at age 7, just that they weren't significantly worse than they already were at age 5, once you controlled for a number of other factors. As far as I can tell, the study did not look at all at the effects of video games or TV prior to age 5.

The researchers themselves make no such sweeping claims.

To be clear, I'm not arguing that video games are bad for kids. I'm just pointing out that this study does not prove what quite a lot of people seem to want it to. Sorry, parents. Science is trying to get you an answer, but for now, you're still on your own with this one.

               

          

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 21, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Malaysians wonder 'Why us?' after second loss of airline jet

    It was all too familiar. Grieving families rushing to airport. The flashing television graphics of a plane's last radar appearance. The uncomfortable officials before a heavy thicket of microphones.
    For many Malaysians, the disappearance of Flight 370 in March has been a long trauma from which the nation has not yet recovered.

    July 18, 2014

  • A quarter of the world's most educated people live in the 100 largest cities

    College graduates are increasingly sorting themselves into high-cost, high-amenity cities such as Washington, New York, Boston and San Francisco, a phenomenon that threatens to segregate us across the country by education.

    July 18, 2014

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 17, 2014

  • The terrible history of passenger planes getting shot out of the sky

    What is more clear is that, if initial reports are true, this would be the deadliest incident of a civilian passenger plane being shot down in modern memory. In some instances, the causes of the disaster are still shrouded in mystery. Here are some of the worst events.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

Features
AP Video
Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Weather Gives Washington Firefighters Hope Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message $5M Bond Set for Teens in Homeless Killings New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Obama Calls for Immediate Access to Crash Site Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism Native American Teens Get Taste of College
Facebook
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Upon completion and reopening of Third Street, should the City of Knoxville wait to start the next stage of the Streetscape and Infrastructure project until 2015?

Yes
No
     View Results