Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her Research

June 24, 2010 -

A piece on the Scientific American website (thanks Kotaku), attempts to pick apart research from Cheryl Olson that looked into the motivating factors among kids for playing videogames.

Olson’s paper, entitled “Children’s Motivations for Video Game Play in the Context of Normal Development” (PDF) argued that “The debate has moved from whether children should play video games to how to maximize potential benefits and to identify and minimize potential harms.” Querying 1,254 kids on the reason they play games, Olson found that the top responses were “It’s just fun,” It’s exciting,” and “something to when bored.”

Olson’s paper plays up the positive impact games can have on kids, including the “joy of competition,” “youth teaching each other,” “opportunities to lead,” “making friends” and even “regulating feelings.”

The Scientific American rebuttal, penned by Dara Greenwood, a social psychologist, said that such a positive spin on games “sounds more utopian than dystopian, right?"

Greenwood continued:

If only it were that simple. As laudable as it is to debunk negative stereotypes about non-violent game play, it is less laudable to gloss over the negative effects of violent video games. Olson’s rosy spin on violent video games positions her on one side of a heated academic debate with staggering stakes in policy and industry.

Olson also routinely counsels parents to limit or monitor time spent with games, to which Greenwood responded, “If the games facilitate healthy development, allow pre-teens to “purge negative feelings” and to inhabit the role of the bad guy while bonding and competing with their peers, why should we worry?”

Greenwood goes on to cite additional research that implies a link between violent games and negative effects on young gamers before suggesting that the game industry should focus its efforts on creating “non-violent but equally exciting, challenging and enjoyable games.”

We asked Dr. Olson for a response to the Scientific American piece. She responded:

It’s sad to see how quick people (who should know better) can be to take research findings out of context, and pile them into a shaky platform from which to jump to conclusions.

This writer misses the main point of the article, which is to go beyond the knee-jerk “games hurt kids” and look at young people’s video game play through a different frame, in hopes of better understanding potential benefits and risks.

The irony is that my own research – with a larger and more representative sample of young teens than anyone else’s - found a significant correlation between spending a lot of time with violent video games, and a greater risk of bullying or getting into physical fights. But because I’m not willing to force-fit data to make a political point, or willing to pretend that a correlation implies causation, I sometimes get tagged as biased. 

(See <http://www.grandtheftchildhood.com/GTC/Research_Papers_files/Olson_M-games%20and%20aggression.pdf>)


Comments

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

Dr. Olson's study researched video game play of any kind.

The critique somehow equated that to violent video games.

Who exactly is spinning here? The critique would probably stand on its a wee bit better, if the author didn't automatically assume all video games are violent.

-- http://pixelantes.blogspot.com/

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

"before suggesting that the game industry should focus its efforts on creating “non-violent but equally exciting, challenging and enjoyable games.”"

We have Nintendo for that, although do tell us why we should ignore content for adults when no other media does so.

----------------------------------------------------

Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

---------------------------------------------------- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

Good point.  I'm going to ignore the HELL out of Metroid when it comes out in August.

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

>Olson’s rosy spin on violent video games positions her on one side of a heated academic debate with staggering stakes in policy and industry.

...so because there happens to be someone in business who may be positively affected by Olson's side of the discussion, Olson is automatically wrong? How does that one work?

/b 

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

"Olson also routinely counsels parents to limit or monitor time spent with games, to which Greenwood responded, “If the games facilitate healthy development, allow pre-teens to “purge negative feelings” and to inhabit the role of the bad guy while bonding and competing with their peers, why should we worry?”"

We should worry because too much of anything can be bad. Broccoli is extremely good for us, but even the most radical health fanatic doesn't advocate a diet consisting of only broccoli.

Games are extremely good at teaching kids a range of skills, but that doesn't mean that they're good at everything. That's why kids' access to games should be limited.

It seems to me that Greenwood is showing the most rabid aspect of the anti-video game witch hunt: the philosophy of which simply does not allow for video games having any worth. But let's not worry: Greenwood and her ilk are dinosaurs. The future belongs to us.

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

So here we go. Someone posts a balanced research, saying that games aren't all bad. And along comes someone who wants to see their names in print to say "They are wrong, games are all bad!"

“If the games facilitate healthy development, allow pre-teens to “purge negative feelings” and to inhabit the role of the bad guy while bonding and competing with their peers, why should we worry?” You know, if water is a good thing, why worry about ever drinking too much of it. You know, oxygen is good, you wouldn't want to do without it... why worry about having too much? Basically, I find it hard to take someone who doesn't understand the concept of 'too much of a good thing' seriously. It seems they actually do have a political motivation for writing this, because otherwise I don't see how they would allow such a statement to be quoted.

I knew a girl who was raised without TV in the house. Brilliant person. Could speak several languages. Went to college early (like you see on those TV shows.) When she got to college, dyed her haid black, and looks like she turned her back on everything her parents believed in.

Basically, childhood isn't meant to be completely safe, wrapped in swaddling, and to be protected until they are 18. If that is your goal, then you aren't raising a balanced individual.

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

 "Olson also routinely counsels parents to limit or monitor time spent with games, to which Greenwood responded, “If the games facilitate healthy development, allow pre-teens to “purge negative feelings” and to inhabit the role of the bad guy while bonding and competing with their peers, why should we worry?”"

Um... because there's important things to do other than games...

Even if the games have benefits the kids do still need to make sure to get their homework done, and should make sure that their taking time to play outside and get some decent exercise... and a good book might not be a bad idea either. If kids do not limit their game play they may forget to study and may not exercise.

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

Its sad when someone spins a positive study into a negative rant just to please there bias nature. Greenwood should be ashame of how he's conductiing himself.

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

Dara Greenwood is a female.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

your point andrew, your point? :D

Jesus Jack Jones Thompson loves you, so kill for his amusement so we can get money for the new "People's Temple of Jesus Jack Jones Thompson"

Jesus Jack Jones Thompson loves you, so kill for his amusement so we can get money for the new "People's Temple of Jesus Jack Jones Thompson"

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

Grammer Nazi

~Weatherlight~

~Weatherlight~

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

Yes, the Nazis were quite well known for demanding that every man and woman be referred to by their proper gender, whereas the Allies had a distinct tactical advantage in being able to reverse pronouns and confuse the enemy.   "Did that American just say 'Mrs. Hitler?' But the Fuhrer is a man!  ACH DU LIEBER"

---
Fangamer

---
Fangamer

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

Ha, I might have to use that one.

(That and it's not even grammar.  There's no grammatical error in referring to a woman as "he", just a factual one.)

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

Its sad when someone spins a positive study into a negative rant just to please there bias nature. Greenwood should be ashame of how he's conductiing himself." -killatia

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

ahhh ok, LOL!!!! that's funny

Jesus Jack Jones Thompson loves you, so kill for his amusement so we can get money for the new "People's Temple of Jesus Jack Jones Thompson"

Jesus Jack Jones Thompson loves you, so kill for his amusement so we can get money for the new "People's Temple of Jesus Jack Jones Thompson"

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

I absolutely agree with Olson - she wasn't saying "Nothing is negative about games whatsoever, there are only the following benefits."

It's almost as if Greenwood is from the old generation of people who believe games are soul sucking devices for anti-social degenerates.

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

Greenwood goes on to cite additional research that implies a link between violent games and negative effects on young gamers before suggesting that the game industry should focus its efforts on creating “non-violent but equally exciting, challenging and enjoyable games.”

From the ESRB's website:

1439 M rated games

4327 T Rated Games

1248 E10 Rated Games

11823 E Rated Games

As you can see, the number of E rated games, whose violence descriptors when applicable consist of Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence, Mild Fantasy Violence, far out number any game with Realistic and Gratuitous violence. Too many researchers and politicians focus on the top end of the rating scale when they should be looking at the full list.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

While I agree about the need for research on games across all rating categories and the idea that Mature rated titles make up a small percentage of ESRB rated games. There are still issues relating to younger gamers playing titles with realistic and gratuitous violence (with or without parental approval).

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

 Yeah, Greenwood's rather blatent ignorance concerning the breakdown of publication pretty much invalidated anything the person had to say for me.  If one can not even be bothered to determine if one's base facts are correct,.....

Re: Dr. Olson Responds to Attempted Besmirching of Her ...

"The irony is that my own research – with a larger and more representative sample of young teens than anyone else’s - found a significant correlation between spending a lot of time with violent video games, and a greater risk of bullying or getting into physical fights. But because I’m not willing to force-fit data to make a political point, or willing to pretend that a correlation implies causation, I sometimes get tagged as biased."

Sure.  My first guess would be that children who are spending a lot of time playing violent games may have parents who either don't know or don't care what they're playing -- suggesting either a lack of involvement or poor judgement.  Though again, that's just a guess, and as Dr. Olson says, it's foolish to force that interpretation on the data -- it's just a hypothesis.

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