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Study Finds Video Games Are Not Bad for Kids 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the paging-jack-thompson dept.
mcgrew writes with news that a study done by the Pew Internet & American Life Project has found game playing is all but universal among teens, and it provides a "significant amount of social interaction and potential for civic engagement." 97% of teens responding to the survey said they played games (75% played weekly or more often), and roughly two-thirds of teens use games as a social experience. The full report (PDF) and the questionnaire with answer data (PDF) are both available for viewing. From the report: "Youth who take part in social interaction related to the game, such as commenting on websites or contributing to discussion boards, are more engaged civically and politically. Youth who play games where they are part of guilds are not more civically engaged than youth who play games alone."
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Study Finds Video Games Are Not Bad for Kids

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  • by 427_ci_505 (1009677) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @07:13PM (#25032411)

    Shouldn't they be called Pew-Pew Internet and American Life? :P

    • Or maybe P(e)wned 1N73RN3...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Commenting on website boards? Well, it certainly doesn't help their grammar, if YouTube comment sections are any indication.

    • by 77Punker (673758) <spencr04NO@SPAMhighpoint.edu> on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @07:33PM (#25032649)

      It's all about where they do the posting. I started posting on Slashdot many years ago when I was a teenager, as revealed by my handle. This website has shaped and developed my ability for written communication by providing both good and bad examples, and by providing me with feedback on the things I say.

      Youtube is different; posting there is like throwing your words away. Discussion does not take place; people throw the words out and then turn their back on them. Here, people come back and see if their comments have scored well. In so doing, they notice replies and reenter the discussion that they had participated in earlier in the day.

      Well, that's how it's worked for me.
      Obviously, there's plenty of terrible comments here, but overall this is easily among the best forums on the internet.

      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @08:03PM (#25032951)
        Exactly. Compared to most forums I've been to, Slashdot's trolls are better written than the admin's posts on other forums.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @11:58PM (#25034509)

          Slashdot's trolls are better written than the admin's posts on other forums.

          You are cordially invited to view the following website, known as goatse [goatse.cx] for your distinct viewing pleasure. Please enjoy yourself, monsieur.

          • by thepotoo (829391)

            Damn it. I laughed at a goatse post. I think this might make me a bad person.

            Either that or it's still too early in the morning.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by D Ninja (825055)

          Exactly. Compared to most forums I've been to, Slashdot's trolls are better written than the admin's posts on other forums.

          ...or the admin's story summaries on this forum, for that matter.

      • by Grimbleton (1034446) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @08:06PM (#25032977)

        your faverite band sux n u r a gay!!!!11!!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Groggnrath (1089073)

        Well, that's how it's worked for me.

        Well, that's the way it's worked for most people here on /. because peer review will always be better than a moderated forum.

        Not that /. is perfect. It's communal shunning of MMOs, and video games in general, diminishes the title "News for nerds. Stuff that matters" in my opinion. But that's off topic, and a conversation for a different time.

        To be on topic, and as it were "pertinent" to the subject, being a part of any community makes people want to be a productive part of society. Being in a guild, or

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by SkyDude (919251)

          Well, that's the way it's worked for most people here on /. because peer review will always be better than a moderated forum.

          Peer review? Does this mean I have no peers if I don't wear a tinfoil hat?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rtb61 (674572)
          However,it is safe interaction. So computer gaming is good for children if for no other reason than it is a safer form of unsupervised interaction and playing ie. they are playing at home in a relatively safe environment rather than out on the streets. Not that it should be their only activity, obviously outdoor play is also very important, however to be as safe it does require parental supervision, often a difficult thing to arrange. So it is not suprising so many parents decide to dump their child in fron
      • I started posting on Slashdot many years ago when I was a teenager, as revealed by my handle.

        You started posting on slashdot in 1977? Impressive!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Firehed (942385)

        Indeed, the slashdot.org/~username page is probably one of the most significant elements of Slashdot's success, for the reasons you've stated. On smaller forums you tend to discuss a specific topic not a piece of news so you'll naturally go back frequently; it's also a lot easier to find the thing again simply due to the size of most forums. On Digg, the discussions (at least in my experience) are read once, leave a couple comments, and never come back; the quality of the dicussions is reflective of this

      • I'm in the same boat.

        It's very useful, because if you ever do something "wrong" it'll get pointed out and you'll be all the smarter. You follow back, and check see if people find what you said interesting or stupid, you eventually pick up a whole bunch of terms, too...

        Ask me three years ago what linux was I'd give you a o_O, now I understand a lot of the way it works... I know what a SoC is, I know about architectures, I know about frameworks, what's "the dream machine" for various situations, and know what

  • by mandelbr0t (1015855) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @07:24PM (#25032543) Journal

    This "study" is about as worthless as they get. They ask a bunch of questions to both parents and teens and attempt to create a correlation to the questions they stuck in there. The parents are asked about their community involvement, and knowledge of current events. Teens are asked if they think communication is a good thing (paraphrased).

    There's three numbers of any interest to me: ~70% of teens have high speed Internet at home. ~60% of them use the Internet daily. Finally, ~60% of parents think that their teen's gaming has no positive or negative effect on them.Overall, the study certainly doesn't make any quantifiable findings about the effect of video games on kids.

    It does, however, show that kids today have a lot better access to the Internet than 10 years ago (surprise!) and that many of them use it on a regular basis (again, surprise!). I'd say that this study shows a stronger correlation between using the Internet regularly and civic involvement than anything to do with video games. In the end, however, it's still just correlation.

    • by kmac06 (608921)
      Yes but the reason this is not (entirely) insignificant is that there is a big lobby out there saying video games/Internet use correlate with "bad" behavioral traits in children, such as violence. So now we can refute those bad statistics with more bad statistics. Yay!
    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      >This "study" is about as worthless as they get.

      When are they doing a study on the impact of games on us old farts?

      >60% of parents think that their teen's gaming has no positive or negative effect on them.

      The olde 'my kid's a genius' seems to work still.

  • by pembo13 (770295) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @07:25PM (#25032547) Homepage
    Moderation in everything you do. I believe these words of wisdom are mentioned in the Psalms as well.
  • I have a thorough and complete response, but there is not enough time to complete it before my matchmaking session is complete.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @07:33PM (#25032641)

    Every study hides and undisputable fact of life:

    "People (and groups) are self-interested first and foremost."

    Games aren't a public service -- there is a profit motive behind them whether or not they're bad for children. Likewise, studies that claim the opposite (in lieu of other child-vices) have the same root -- a profit motive.

    Here is a study I'd like to see:

        1. Which is better for children: Throwing rocks at my neighbor's window or playing GTA?

        2. Which is better for children: Attending a public school or playing Age of Conan.

    At the end of the day, I'm the parent and I'll decide what's good or bad for my children -- I don't need some pointy-head-pencil-pusher to feed me agenda-ized information.

    • Games aren't a public service -- there is a profit motive behind them whether or not they're bad for children. Likewise, studies that claim the opposite (in lieu of other child-vices) have the same root -- a profit motive.

      Right, from baseball mitt manufacturers, I presume. Only they would be evil enough to try to maintain, through smear tactics, their old monopoly on fun.

  • overly aggressive video games like manhunt and GTAx can be very bad for children who have not developed proper conflict resolution skills.

    I certainly don't agree with banning games like that since they provide many hours of enjoyment to me.

    I will not let my son play them until he's mature enough to demonstrate the ability to choose something other than aggression.

    I do support game ratings and I wish retailers would enforce them. I don't agree with government regulation of games or movies. That would be censorship.

    • I do support game ratings and I wish retailers would enforce them. I don't agree with government regulation of games or movies. That would be censorship.

      So you are ok with censorship so long as it isn't the government censoring content?

      • by Trogre (513942)

        Absolutely yes.

        Do you really want *extremely* impressionable young minds exposed to hard-core pornography and gratuitous violence? Do you have *any* idea how the human mind develops?

        And before you say parents should take the responsibility to monitor what their kids watch, that would also be censorship, wouldn't it?

        • Absolutely yes. Do you really want *extremely* impressionable young minds exposed to hard-core pornography and gratuitous violence? Do you have *any* idea how the human mind develops?

          Harmful for children soon becomes harmful to the state. Have you noticed how censorship works? It rarely starts with the banning of free speech, it always, always starts with what is harmful for young minds.

          And before you say parents should take the responsibility to monitor what their kids watch, that would also be censorship, wouldn't it?

          No, because it is simply voluntarily choosing not to do something as the law gives minors very, very, very few rights.

    • by potat0man (724766)
      overly aggressive video games like manhunt and GTAx can be very bad for children who have not developed proper conflict resolution skills.

      How do you know?
      • by DragonTHC (208439)

        I've studied the research available on violent media exposure.

        It proves definitive links between exposure to violence in media at certain age groups can lead to an increase in aggressive behavior instead of normal conflict resolution.

        • by ArsonSmith (13997)

          Yet violent crime is at an extreme low and violent media is at an extreme high?? where do you get the link showing the opposite from?

  • by nobodyman (90587) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @07:44PM (#25032769) Homepage

    I've never been a huge fan "educational" games. I do think there are some good titles, but I think that the majority of educational games fail because they think that the emphasis is on being "educational". The underlying game has to be fun or the kid will throw it aside.

    That said, I think that *all* games are educational. When my daughter was three she picked up my wife's Animal Crossing game and fell in love with it. I sat down and played with her and read all dialogue. Eventually I had to read to her less and less as she was increasingly able to recognize words. Today she's five and reads at a 3rd-grade level. Obviously it's not solely due to games like Animal Crossing, but I think it certainly helped.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Top marks for good fatherhood. Let me recant a story.

      Ok, i was born a bit early for computer games but I can see the effect and congratulations are in order. I read war and peace at the age of 9, but the school still made me read johnny appleseed because I was supposed to. I hate that book.

      However I didn't really fall in love with books until I real frederich pohl and stephen baxter.

      I am a librarian now, and work in the field of human/computer interaction

      If I never was shown the right book way back in 1997

      • Librarians are the keepers of knowledge and should be more highly respected and given the accolades we give to football players.

        • by 77Punker (673758)

          I think we give accolades to professional athletes because whenever one of them turns out not to be a total asshole, it comes as a surprise to everyone.

          When a librarian turns out to be a decent person, it's business as usual.

          • i think its because millions watch football and can use advertising and other revenue streams to pay these guys. Libraries are not profit machines.
  • My daughter has been playing computer games ever since see was 3. This weekend she was locked in the computer room playing The Sims with Aerosmith Classics blaring on the other computer... in other words, she turned out just like her daddy. Of course, she's only 7... wonder what she will be like when she's a teenager!
  • And next week... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @07:52PM (#25032831) Journal

    ... a study will find that Video Games *Are* Bad for Kids.

    • Actually, a study will show that parents who base their parenting habits off all these "studies" are bad for children. Including this study.

  • So wait, Jack Thompson was wrong?

    I am shocked, just simply shocked at this news.

  • by Krater76 (810350) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @08:02PM (#25032945) Journal

    For instance, you can play a mayor in âoeSimCity,â and get a close-up look at what it takes to build and maintain a community. Helping a newbie get his sea legs in a game simulates the real-world experience of volunteering.

    So what does mercilessly ganking a low-level player in Thousand Needles simulate?

    But seriously, did they check how social these kids were before playing the games? Just because someone is being more civic in their gameplay doesn't mean that they got that way from playing games, they could've been that way in the first place.

  • significant amount of social interaction and potential for civic engagement.

    Keyword potential. In the wise words of penny arcade: SHITCOCK!

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19/ [penny-arcade.com]

  • Online videogames are terribly dangerous!

    Ban everyone under the age of 18 from playing online. That way, I can finally play online without some prepubescent screaming in my ear about how much of a n00b I am for not playing 16 hours a day.

    I mean... err... so the kids won't get exposed to violence and sex and become criminals...
    • I suggest you get a Wii... Not only do you not have to play hardly any games online, but you also only communicate with about 15 pre-determined phrases!
  • You're telling me that the kind of people you see on Gamefaqs are more engaged civically and politically than their peers?

    Our nation is doomed. :(
  • You got that right. I think Roblox has helped my son (poor social skills, just like me) learn a little bit about conflict resolution. It's almost funny to watch: the first thing any of them do to anyone else new is frag them. Then comes the "you @#$#@ n00b" phase. After awhile they realize there's no winning, so they find some common ground, make up, and invite each other to be friends.

    Dealing with my workplace IT staff is just like this, BTW: the first time I deal with someone I don't already know, I get t

  • ... 30 something year olds living in their parents basement?
  • because as you know both Bill Gates and Donald Trump used to play Monopoly [uncyclopedia.org] a lot, and it taught them how to do business.

    George W. Bush used to play a lot of Risk, Advanced Squad Leader, and Stratego games to help him figure out his foreign policies.

    Linus Torvalds used to play a lot of Life and Scrabble which taught him sharing and unscrambling things to make them into something useful like Open Source Software.

    Steve Jobs played Candy Land and Go, and got ideas from them how to make the Macintosh with eye candy and making it easy to use like Candy Land but complex like Go.

  • by Lucky75 (1265142) on Tuesday September 16, 2008 @11:46PM (#25034455)
    Studies can be made to show anything by simply selecting which data proves your point. Take them with a grain of salt.
  • ... say the same thing.

    Don't we have enough adults now who grew up playing videogames, that could tell you that it was an enjoyable activity and that's it?

    As in everything, it's bad without moderation (re: 18 hour play sessions on WoW), but really, this debate is as ridiculous as they get.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @07:09AM (#25036631) Homepage
    a small script written by any slashdotter that takes care of this debate once or twice a month, randomly. there are only two possible outcomes based on the jack.thompson randomizer, which decreases in value daily.

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