MSN recently reported on a study by U.S. and Japanese researchers who say they have figured out whether or not violent video games actually create violent children. The study resulted in the following:
In general, Anderson's team found that kids who habitually played violent video games were more likely than their peers to become increasingly involved in physical fights — even when their behavior in the months leading up to the study was taken into account.Now, hold on. I know what you're thinking. It's proven once and for all, right? Actually, not really. Here's the problem with what is being reported:
First, the article mentions nothing whatsoever about percentages. Were all the kids who habitually played more aggressive? How many of their nearly 2,000-subject study turned out to be more violent? Were there six, or sixty, or half of one?
Second, it "proves" that only habitual players of violent video games between the ages of nine and eighteen become more violent. What exactly constitutes habitual game playing for a nine-year-old, or a twelve-year-old, or an eighteen-year-old? Six hours a day? Four hours? Nine? Thirteen? What? These kids are in school, so they're not playing all day, obviously. What about all the kids who didn't fit into that group? Were they completely the opposite? A kid who played an hour a night was perfectly fine, but a kid who played seven hours a night had a higher tendency for violence?
Third, nothing is mentioned about their home environments. How many of these kids were in abusive environments? How many were in good homes? How many had parents who do this little thing called parenting and didn't let them play games all night? How many had parents who were active in their lives and made it a habit to be involved and explanatory? There's nothing mentioned about this. Is there a connection between violent video games and bad/abusive parenting? That's something that I think is really important to studies like this, because those are factors that must be accounted for.
Fourth, and lastly, the article says:
The Japanese teens reported on their own violent behavior using questionnaires,
while teachers' and peers' reports were used to estimate the U.S. group's
Okay, so there were no standardized methods in how the data was collected in this test. That's important to pay attention to. Instead of having one method that was universal for the whole study, they used two, which will produce different results and have different variations within the data that must be accounted for. Teachers and peers may skew data differently than a questionnaire given to a teen will, and that means you have to account for different variables and statistical anomalies.
If you think about this real hard you'll realize that nothing has been proven at all. This is the same as people telling you that literacy is dying. It's not dying; in fact, far from it (and this has a lot to do with asking the wrong questions, because asking whether someone read a book doesn't prove that someone who says "no" doesn't read). The problem, however, is that people won't think about it. They'll see what is being said, ignore the language, and automatically think the worst. That's what people do and unfortunately it will mean ruining the whole thing for everyone. Think about this in terms of dog-banning laws. One or two dogs act up that happen to be of a particular breed and all of a sudden an entire city puts a ban on that breed. Well, a couple moron teenagers with screwed up parents went off and shot some other teenagers or teachers or their parents or whatever and happened to play violent video games and all of a sudden the country is making laws that ban such games.
So calm down, video games don't make your kids psychotic killers.