Does playing video games negatively effect the time adolescents should be spending in more developmentally appropriate activities like sports and hanging out with friends? I’ve got a personal bone to pick with gaming. Although I intellectually understand the appeal, I emotionally resent the pull of games. Specifically, I wish that sports would once again replace video games. Not to mention that it’s now the chosen method for how my husband unwinds at the end of the day.
I want to re-visit a 2007 study sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that focused on the relationship between time spent in video game play and other activities. The study surveyed 1400+ teenagers and tweens aged 10-19 and found that ONLY 36% of them played video games between 1-1.5 hours a week. But when these teens DID engage in playing video games, they tended to avoid the “distractions” of responsibilities like homework.
Furthermore, although gamers surveyed DID NOT spend less time than non-gamers with parents and friends, and seem to not be socially isolated…if they game without friends on the weekends, they also spend less time with their friends in other activities. So, gamers seems to attract gamers. Sound like an addict model to you?
By far the most conclusive point of the study is concern regarding gamers’ neglect of school responsibilities (reading and homework). “Among gamers, on school days in particular, female gamers spent 34% less time doing homework and male gamers spent 30% less time reading. ” – Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2007;161(7):684-689.
It seems to me that video gaming, although not endemic, has the power to pull and attract teenagers into a certain way of relating with one another. The same way my husband relates to his cousin when they battle it out on the FIFA football field. And that, although manageable, video gaming does have consequences even when a teen is not “addicted” to the activity. I’m interested in learning more about the academic and social outcomes of gaming as interactive media and technology become more and more a part our modern lives.
How do you think video games play do or do not influence adolescent development? Or adult development, come to think of it … ?