Electronic Game Players No Couch Potatoes
Gaming among college-aged men may provide a healthy source of socialization, relaxation, and coping.
In college-aged males:
- there were no significant correlations between participants’ BMI and frequency of electronic game play
- there were no significant correlations between academic performance and frequency of electronic game play
- there were no significant mean differences between other variables related to social functioning (e.g., relationship status) and frequency of electronic game play, revealing no obvious trends in interpersonal functioning for those who play games more or less frequently.
- other media usage was either not related to frequency of electronic game play as for magazines or was inversely related, as with the frequency of consumption of television.
This last observation suggests that individuals may be more selective with their choice of media rather than, as has been the general assumption, generally consuming multiple forms of media at equivalent rates.
In spite of their negative associations electronic game play actually facilitate positive relationships and coping skills to some extent.
These results are only applicable to college-aged males. Gegeneralizations should be limited to this group. Itis possible that they are better able to manage the frequently conflicting academic, social,
and intrapersonal demands of their developmental period.
The frequency of playing was positively correlated with being bored as well as playing when lonely and when stressed.
How was this study done?
The current study investigated relationships between frequency of electronic game play and obesity, the social/emotional context of electronic game play, and academic performance among 219 college-aged males. They electronically signed an informed consent form, completed the online survey, received a debriefing form that they could print for their records, and were offered the opportunity to request results of the study after its completion.
Results revealed that 92.7% of participants reported that they had played electronic games within the last month. Additionally, 62.1% of participants reported that they played
electronic games within the last 24 hours. Individuals who were identified as current game players (played electronic games within the last week) reported a weekly average of 9.73 hours of game play. Of those currently engaging in game play, 8.5% reported playing an average of 35 hours per week.
The reported mean age of commencement of electronic game play was 7.5 years of age.
This study has to be replicated in other samples, with experimental and longitudinal studies will be necessary to ascertain the impact of prolonged gaming on social functioning. This also has to be done in other age groups in order to elucidate the role that electronic gaming plays across the lifespan.
Elizabeth Wack, Stacey Tantleff-Dunn (2008). Relationships between Electronic Game Play, Obesity, and Psychosocial Functioning in Young Men CyberPsychology & Behavior, 2147483647-4 DOI: 10.1089/cpb.2008.0151
November 18, 2008 @ 11:25 am
Interesting findings, but I do find the sample a bit peculiar: it seems that the sample consists on average of rather heavy gamers. Might there have been some self-selection going on here? How would these people compare to the ‘average’ population, or rather the non-gamers among us?
November 18, 2008 @ 11:55 am
Participants were recruited through mass emails sent through institutions-approved listservs. The institutions were two colleges in southeastern US. So it is a self selected sample, not a random selection, this limits generalization of the results.
Regards Dr Shock
November 18, 2008 @ 9:48 pm
Studies of this type are not a surprise at all to me. The findings are important, and provide some evidence that the activity of playing computer games does not cause overt medical or psychological harm. In this way, gaming may differ from some other activities that people may do which bolster social interaction or manage stress, such as smoking or drinking.
But the issue can be examined in a deeper way, as a cultural trend. Is the practice of electronic gaming culturally desirable?
I am a critic of electronic gaming as a cultural trend, for a number of reasons, and here is a different type of study to compare the effects:
-do a prospective, randomized study, starting in childhood or adolescence. Group one would play video games for 10-20 hours per week. Out of necessity the actual video games would have to change over time, since technology would change, rendering previous games obsolete. Group two would spend the same hours per week developing a previously identified talent, such as for music, art, or writing. Both groups could imaginatively spend their weekly hours doing the activity individually, socially, publicly, privately, interactively, etc. according to their wishes and according to their personality style.
–Let the study continue for 10-20 years.
Here are my predictions for the study results:
-Groups 1 and 2 would do EQUALLY WELL in terms of social adjustment, friendships, psychiatric symptoms, and intellectual performance. The actual stimulating activity does not really matter to the brain, most likely–as long as the brain is stimulated in a structured way, it is likely to develop.
-Groups 1 and 2 WOULD DIFFER in terms of their ability to contribute meaningfully to society, in terms of cultural and creative input. Group 1 individuals might possibly become more creative computer programmers, fighter pilots, etc. Perhaps some group 1 individuals who had practiced a lot of games with some kind of social or leadership dynamics included might have developed stronger imaginative leadership skills, etc. But probably most group 1 individuals would not have developed any greater skills relating to social leadership, nor many other tangible skills to offer society creatively. Furthermore, most electronic games are not focused upon developing creative or social skills outside of learning how to win, how to defeat others, or how to fight. Group 2 individuals would, in my opinion, stand out more as cultural leaders, and would probably have a more satisfying intellectual and cultural life, with many more gifts to offer society.
Also I do not believe Group 2 individuals would become “computer illiterate”: a group 2 individual who had developed their musical or literary talent, for example, would most likely adhere quickly to the latest electronic technologies to develop their talent, such as advanced musical software, synthesizers, etc. The technology would become mere tools to develop a primary talent, rather than primary activities in themselves, with no primary talent developed at all.
I encourage us not to rush too enthusiastically toward encouraging our children to immerse themselves in a culture of electronic gaming, with some kind of medical assurance of health or with a promise of “intellectual stimulation”. Let us encourage our children to develop a meaningful culture with their intellectual energies.
November 19, 2008 @ 10:40 am
I think game play doesn’t have such impact as you suggest. Psychological make-up of people is far more complicated. Gamers more probably play games because they are good at it, they enjoy it partly because of their personality. It is no coincidence that surgeon’s or fighter pilots play computer games, it is what they do, it is what they like, it is were they are good at. Others don’t like computer game play, they are not good at it. Those are the relational types, they need the interaction, they won’t make good fighter pilots.
I think you put to much weight on the influence of computer games on personality, it is a reciprocal process.
Regards Dr Shock
November 20, 2008 @ 8:06 pm
Well, we have only our differences of opinion with which to conclude our debate — that is why I propose a long-term randomized study, so that we can see for sure which one of us is more right. At this point we do not have such data.
I suspect, though, that had a fairly compulsive character such as W.A. Mozart was likely to have been, had full access to video games in his day, there would have been far fewer piano concertos, operas, and symphonies, but perhaps a few more action games offered to society.
Once again, I can’t prove that, but I hope some further, longer-term studies can be done to assess social and culture impact of video gaming.
In the early days of cigarette marketing, I have little doubt that short-term studies would have demonstrated a beneficial effect on culture, socialization, health, and intellectual performance. Once you take the studies out for 5,10, or 20 years, you can see the real impact.
November 26, 2008 @ 11:32 pm
Don’t forget that women play games as well.
Healthy Online Gaming and Browser Gaming | Dr Shock MD PhD
March 9, 2009 @ 7:55 am
[…] Gaming among college-aged men may provide a healthy source of socialization, relaxation, and coping. In college aged men there was no significant correlation between BMI, academic performance, social functioning and frequency of online game play. Women and men differ hardly in performance with online gaming. Women probably use gender neutral characters and names, they probably game as much online as men. […]
March 18, 2009 @ 1:28 am
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March 18, 2009 @ 9:50 pm
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