Ars Technica has a piece up today regarding a study published in the June edition of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine with enough science to choke Thomas Dolby.
According to a survey of American adolescents, the AoPaAM claims that while 40% of the group studied were actually gamers, very few of them exhibited gaming habits that were detrimental to their social skills. The Ars Technica article seems to see a similar result for scholastic pursuits, but according to the study:
Although gamers and nongamers did not differ in the amount of time they spent interacting with family and friends, concerns regarding gamers’ neglect of school responsibilities (reading and homework) are warranted.
Perhaps there’s a hidden subtext to that quote that I’m missing, though. After all, I’ve been playing games all my life and according to the AoPaAM, I’m only qualified to work as a carny.
Hit the jump for methodology and more text you probably can’t read anyway.
The study collected 24-hour time-use diaries from a poll of 1491 children from the ages of 10 to 19. In each, the wee ones were asked to record everything they did, and the surveys were then compiled and used to determine the amount of time spent on activities such as gaming, time spent with the family, extracurricular activities, and schoolwork. The results causatively suggest that these doctors didn’t spend their entire childhood in front of a cathode-ray tube playing Donkey Kong, so let’s assume their work is sound.
The real interesting part comes when I start quoting large sections of their text:
Results Differences in time spent between game players and nonplayers as well as the magnitude of the relationships among game time and activity time among adolescent game players were assessed. Thirty-six percent of adolescents (80% of boys and 20% of girls) played video games. On average, gamers played for an hour on the weekdays and an hour and a half on the weekends. Compared with nongamers, adolescent gamers spent 30% less time reading and 34% less time doing homework. Among gamers (both genders), time spent playing video games without parents or friends was negatively related to time spent with parents and friends in other activities.
I think it’s safe to say that most of the people reading this site don’t exactly fit their median view of what a “gamer” is. I’ve spent more than an hour playing games today and I only woke up twenty minutes ago.
Congratulatory back-patting aside, the study finds that gamers spent 30% less time reading and 34% less time doing homework, and that there was a negative relationship between time spent with games and that spent with parents or friends. While the second part can be explained away as a necessary side-effect of gamers not owning time machines and having limited access to the space-time continuum, that first part is more disturbing. There’s no funny way to explain away the dearth of scholastic effort in the gamers studied, so I guess the media wins a point on this one.
*Nex shakes his fist at the sky*
Let’s take a look at the doctors’ conclusions:
Conclusions Although gamers and nongamers did not differ in the amount of time they spent interacting with family and friends, concerns regarding gamers’ neglect of school responsibilities (reading and homework) are warranted. Although only a small percentage of girls played video games, our findings suggest that playing video games may have different social implications for girls than for boys.
There you have it. It’s nice to see that gaming doesn’t exactly force everyone to live in a cave subsisting on a diet of roots, grubs and nachos, but I have an eerie feeling that their mention of “different social implications for girls than for boys” points to a greater degree of social aberrance in female gamers. Keep in mind I’m not wearing a lab coat, and my monocle hasn’t been shined in ages, but when historians go through the archives of Destructoid, I intend to be remembered for more than just an affinity for the Panzerwaffe.
So, what’s the moral of today’s story? Everyone is wrong! The media doesn’t know what the hell they’re on about when they claim gaming makes us do that cave thing I talked about earlier, and the pro-gaming activists aren’t accurate when they claim gaming has no effect on children. As is often the case, the truth lies somewhere in middle, and none of it really matters anyway because we all masturbate so often that we’re going to be blind by the age of twenty-six.