Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game Addiction Data

April 20, 2009 -

Harvard's Dr. Cheryl Olson, co-author of Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games, offered GamePolitics some thoughts on research data released today by Iowa State University Prof. Douglas Gentile and Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family.

According to Gentile and Walsh, 8.5% of 8-18 year olds exhibit behaviors similar to those that clinically define compulsive gamblers.

Olson, however, questions their methodology, which involved the collection of data via an online Harris Interactive Poll.

From Dr. Olson:

The concern here is labeling normal childhood behaviors as "pathological" and "addicted." The author [Iowa State University's Prof. Douglas Gentile] is repurposing questions used to assess problem gambling in adults; however, lying to your spouse about blowing the rent money on gambling is a very different matter from fibbing to your mom about whether you played video games instead of starting your homework.

 

It's also very questionable whether kids as young as 8 can accurately fill out a self-administered online questionnaire, especially one that uses questions designed for adults.

That said, the study is well intended, and a good reminder to discuss rules and set limits with your kids re: electronic game use.


Comments

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

"The concern here is labeling normal childhood behaviors as "pathological" and "addicted." The author [Iowa State University's Prof. Douglas Gentile] is repurposing questions used to assess problem gambling in adults; however, lying to your spouse about blowing the rent money on gambling is a very different matter from fibbing to your mom about whether you played video games instead of starting your homework."

First lets correct an error. The author never stated that a child was "pathological" or "addicted" just because they fibbed to their parents about playing video games instead of starting their homework. The author asked if the child had skipped doing their homework to play video games and it was just one of eleven questions used to diagnose a greater problem.

With that out of the way, the real concern here is what you consider "normal childhood behavior". These questions have always served as a good indicator if a person has a gambling problem or not. Reread the eleven questions regarding pathological video game use and replace references to video games and playing with alcohol and drinking and tell me if you believe a college student that answered positive to 6 or more of 11 questions would have an drinking problem or would they be engaging in "normal college behavior".

I can understand any concerns as to the comprehension of the questions by a young child. Given your response, I'm to assume that even a teenager that answers positive to 6 or more of the 11 questions is still only engaging in normal childhood behavior? Why can't these questions apply to a child and not just an adult?

Now let's change your comparison and try to compare apples to apples.

Is there a difference between an adult lying to their spouse about blowing the grocery money on gambling and a child lying to his or her parents about blowing their school lunch money on the latest video game?

How about an adult that kisses their spouse goodbye in the morning to go to work yet they have already called in sick to work so they can go to a bar and drink instead? Compare that to a child that leaves home to get on the school bus but instead the child hides in the woods and returns home after the parents have left for work just so they can stay home and play video games? The adult is an alcoholic and the child is engaging in normal childhood behavior?

Sure, children will fib about starting their homework when they were playing instead; however, a child whose life revolves around games and who has difficulty functioning like a normal child (attending school, doing homework, doing chores, socializing with friends and family) may have a problem. If you don't see that then....

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

It's also very questionable whether kids as young as 8 can accurately fill out a self-administered online questionnaire, especially one that uses questions designed for adults.

Legally, don't you have to be at least 13 years old?

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

I am one to believe that addiction is ok, and it is not as bad as what some people say it is.

Also you have to be careful in how you define an addiction.

 

If you define an addiction as something negative, then all you do is painting a deeply negative picture on a group of people who may be perfectly fine.

And the way some people in the news media talk about addictions as something deeply negative and disturbing all the more wants me to just turn off the TV and play a few videogames just for forget all about what they are saying.

 

TBoneTony

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game Addiction

 

The concern here is labeling normal childhood behaviors as "pathological" and "addicted." The author [Iowa State University's Prof. Douglas Gentile] is repurposing questions used to assess problem gambling in adults; however, lying to your spouse about blowing the rent money on gambling is a very different matter from fibbing to your mom about whether you played video games instead of starting your homework.

See it can't be video game because there are other factor that can make person irresponsible.  This is not a case of video game addiction.  This is a case of giving bad video game a bad reputation.  Next thing you know, they'll say anime/manga cause addiction.  Also, are we going to do something about other but extremely dangerous addiction like gambling, and drug.  Those are the true bad guy.

It's also very questionable whether kids as young as 8 can accurately fill out a self-administered online questionnaire, especially one that uses questions designed for adults.

I'm wondering how they got the data.  Did they like ask a couple of pre-teen kids about how they play video game, and how long they play game and the hour played then they made up the rest.

That said, the study is well intended, and a good reminder to discuss rules and set limits with your kids re: electronic game use.

My conclusion: Parent just have to get better parenting skills.  I did found this data to be just off.

and Prof. Gentile and Dr. Walsh and NIMF calling Olson a symbol of children corruption and claiming she promote video game addiction and also adding her on the conspiracy list of corrupting people in 3...2...1

mikedo2007

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game Addiction

What percentage of kids are addicted to baseball, television, or hanging out with thier friends?

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

0.9%.  There'd be more, but they were to addicted to there video games to be addicted to some other hobby.

---

I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

Sounds like the iphone generation forgot how to multitask.

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game Addiction

Can we also distinguish between addiction, being simply irresponsible, and occasional excesses?

'Cause there have been times when I've gotten a new game over the weekend and blown time on it, then went back to my duties when the new week started. I'd hardly call that an addiction as much as a one-night-binge.

Reality/////////////////////////////////////Fantasy. Seems like a pretty thick line to me...

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

Or basic procrastination, perhaps? Kids skipping homework to play with their toys is nothing new, nor anything unnatural. It's just now, they've turned to games.

Comparing games to gambling addictions has already been disputed by institutes that have tried to treat both. Those institutes admit the gaming "addiction" is nothing like those of gambling.

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

Honestly, I think its all in the semantics. Addiction is one of those words that has a bad tinge to it. When talking about addicts, you think of drug users, alcholics, cigarette smokers. People who would like to quit, but can't due to the Physical dependancy on the addictive behavior of thier choice.

I think a better word for what gamers and gamblers do is Obession. You become Obsessed with something, because you enjoy it, and would rather be doing it over anything else. Some people are obsessed with gambling, some people are obsessed with gaming, and some people are obsessed with Sex. However, "Addiction," in my opinion, doesn't really fit any of those behaviors, because there isn't really a physical dependence on the act itself.

Do I think gaming Obession (addiction) exists? Yes, in the past, I have ignored my personal responsibilities and relationships in order to play games more often that I'd like to admit, and that, to me, tells me that I was Obsessed with video games. I, however, was not addicted. Once I realized what my obsession with games was doing, I was able to scale back a bit, and find healthier (both mentally and physically) things to do with my time. There were no withdrawls or any physical symptoms (aside from the occasional boredom), therefore no actual addiction.

Is gaming obsession a problem? Yes, if kids are playing games in leiu of doing thier schoolwork or chores, then it is an issue. If adults are ignoring thier kids because they are playing a game, it is an issue. People like that need to realize that gaming is fine, in moderation, but when you begin to obsess, then its time to scale it back.

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

There is one more thin with gambling. Some people feel that they have to gamble to get themselves out of debt. They will do more and more till they lose their car, house, job, etc. By definition, that is addiction.

However, I don't see people gaming to save their life (unless it's Saw style). Has there someone that was so crazy over video games, and out of money, they would sell their house, or prostitute themselves to get a new game?

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

I may not agree with your politics, but I'm 100% behind you on this. :)

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

Hah! This must mean I have a reputation forming.. Woot!

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

Well, I agree this may be a problem with kids. However, not as big and severe as researchers claim, nor anything new. It's the way kids are.


Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game Addiction

While the textbook definition of addiction does apply to things like gambling, gaming, etc., I really wish that the psychological community would make a distinction between physical addictions and compulsive behaviors.

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

That said, the study is well intended, and a good reminder to discuss rules and set limits with your kids re: electronic game use.

Usually, those kind of studies are the worst intended...

 

The cynical side of videogames (spanish only): http://thelostlevel.blogspot.com/ My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship): http://www.darkknightstrikes.deviantart.com/

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

 I agree ... 5 bucks that a news agency claims this stat as complete fact and starts spreading it around the next time games are brought to their attention.

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game Addiction

As I repeatedly discuss when the topic of "video game addiction" comes up.  Do they ever do these studies on the effects of television?

TV is a much worse time sink than games are.  I can't even begin to state how much dumber I am because of television.

------- Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

Dumber and entertained! =)

Seriously, though.  I absolutely do believe that game addiction exists; I doubt anyone who's at all informed about games would deny that.  But the notion that 8.5% of American gamers between 8-18 are addicts?  Alarmist propaganda, much?

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

I would say it depends on the definition of addiction.  The way people tend to use it now a days yes one can be addicted to games but I have then probably known people addicted to music, history books, et cetera.

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

Addiciton, by the classical definition applied to gambling as the most obvious example, absolutely exists.

That's the thing...it's real, it's just not as prevalent as they're making it out to be.  And unfortunately, the purpose of alarmist misinformation like this is to attack gaming as a whole, not to put effort into researching ways to handle the actual cases of addiction (which is where the effort should be going).

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

I don't doubt that it exists.  I am definitely an addict.  But I'm waaaay more addicted to the television.

------- Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

Re: Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges NIMF Game ...

It's also very questionable whether kids as young as 8 can accurately fill out a self-administered online questionnaire, especially one that uses questions designed for adults.
 

Questionable would certainly be one way of putting it.

-Gray17

 
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