Health and real-life accomplishments usurped by video games
Dear Straight Talk: I was excited to have my 14-year-old brother in high school with me, but he’s completely changed. Our single dad bought a computer and game console for our study and refuses to set rules on it. My brother has become a shut-in gaming addict who I hardly know anymore. He plays from the minute he gets home till 2AM and barely gets to school. He returns to our mom’s bugged-eyed, anxious and angry and it takes several days before he returns to normal. Then we go back to our dad’s and the cycle starts again. My dad says we must monitor our own lives — which my brother isn’t doing. What can I do? — Big Sister, 16, Springfield, Oregon
Editor’s Note: My bad. And I don’t care. My stance of video games is increasingly unpopular.
A full 99% of boys and 94% of girls played video games regularly according to the 2008 Pew Internet and American Life Project — and 62% of parents felt the game playing had no effect one way or the other on their child. And 19% said the effects were positive! (Which I suspect meant they enjoyed not having to deal with their kids because they were zombified.)
To those parents, please think again. A 2010 study published in Psychological Science compared two groups of boys who were “home gaming virgins” (meaning they’d never had gaming systems in the home). One group got a gaming system first, while the others had to wait four months to get theirs. In that four-month period, the boys with the gaming systems developed significantly lower reading and writing scores and greater teacher-reported learning problems than the virgins.
No duh, Einstein. When you’re busy gaming you don’t have as much time for homework, reading, conversations with parents, or even just playing outside, which is connected to learning.
What I can’t figure out, is why, knowing this, the parents of the “virgins” accepted the gaming systems? And why the first group, didn’t give them back?
And these weren't the hardcore gamers putting in over 8 hours a day. Imagine that toll. And we aren’t even addressing the effects of absorbing the violence and sexual perversity found in many of the top-10 favorite teen games, which is linked to aggressive behavior in many studies. You are what you eat. We did cover this connection to violence in two columns: JAN 15, 2013 and JAN 8, 2013.
Death by video game. One more thing: Quoting from a 2012 LiveScience article: “The gamer community had a near-miss this week in Ohio, when a 15-year-old boy collapsed after playing "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" for up to five days straight. The Columbus teen was rushed to the hospital with severe dehydration, where he recovered… in July, a Taiwanese teenager was found dead after sitting for 40 hours in an Internet cafe playing "Diablo 3." At the time, doctors speculated he died from a heart attack caused by a blood clot that formed during the long session. And last summer, a 20-year-old man from the U.K. died from a blood clot after spending 12-hour sessions on his Xbox. His father told "The Sun" newspaper, "He lived for his Xbox. I never dreamed he was in any danger."”
To hardcore gamers, you probably aren’t reading this anyway. To those living with one, consider invoking your “inner Breele”. —Lauren
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