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Lewis Lewis Denby is a freelance videogames journalist and critic. As well as HonestGamers, he has written for PC Gamer, Eurogamer, The Escapist, Gamasutra and BeefJack.

Title: Videogamers are druggies
Posted: January 26, 2009 (06:35 AM)
The Telegraph hilariously misrepresents already flawed study in piece of sensationalist bollocks that would make even red-tops cringe.

That's my initial reaction to the article, anyway. I've managed to track down the journal this research was printed in, and I'm about to read the whole document. Back in half an hour...

Right. A few things strike me.

Firstly, the focus of the study is very much on exlporing, simply, whether or not there is a link between the playing of videogames and other social and behavioural patterns in the life of young people. It is by no means intended as conclusive proof of what effects they have, and the only thing it really concludes is that it's an area which needs more specific research. Professor Walker even goes as far as to say "There needs to be caution against overstating the impact of video games and internet use on the development of young people based on the current findings." It's quite odd that she makes such an outlandish claim as "our findings were exclusively negative" in The Telegraph, given her caution expressed in the article, and especially given that the study is on the effects of videogames on RISK BEHAVIOURS in adolescence. Of course you're only going to get negative results. It's like when Wakefield linked the MMR vaccine to autism. BECAUSE HE WAS ONLY LOOKING AT CHILDREN WITH AUTISM. I think researchers need to be more aware of how the media is inevitibly going to exaggerate their findings...

Even so, it's a bland piece of preliminary research that doesn't seem to quite understand that it's an area that doesn't lend itself necessarily to the causitive effect model. Yes, there is proof that, out of these 800 participants, the longer people spent playing violent videogames, the more cannabis they tended to smoke. But you could equally reverse your variables and get the same results, drawing probably more sensible conclusions. We all know cannabis makes you want to do nothing more than slump into a chair and do something non-taxing (and before anyone gets on their high horse, it's clearly true. And I'm speaking as someone who used to get through quite a lot of the stuff back in the day). Videogames lend themselves perfectly to cannabis use. The reverse, I'm almost certain, isn't true - but the results were never going to show this discrepancy.

If anyone's interested in reading the study... well, you might have trouble if you aren't a university student. If you are, you can access it at Springerlink, by logging in through your University student portal and so forth... I'm sure you know how it all works. Search for Journal of Youth and Adolescence - it's in the February edition.

sashananUser: sashanan
Posted: January 26, 2009 (10:44 AM)
As a Dutchman, I always have to flip a switch in my mind reading things like this and remind myself that in the rest of the world, cannabis use is in general considered a bad thing by the mainstream.

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