Monday, June 13, 2011

Weak Angry Boys

Edward Harrison has a posting that covers two areas of interest to me.  One is confirmation bias (he does not want to believe that video games cause anti-social behavior), and the other is this same anti-social tendency in young males.

The anti-social tendency is of interest because we recently were discussing (also picked up at Small Holding  here and here2, with a coincidental concurrent discussion at Rural Revolution here3) the physical weakness of modern youth.

To the extent that your player of modern first person shooter games is a young male, it strikes me as a rather dubious idea to make our youths have the aggressive instincts of a Navy Seal, with an activity that gives them the physique of the Pillsbury Doughboy.

My little one likes to battle on the (free!) Lego Games website.  He also has light sabers, blasters, pirate pistols, etcetera…. So we are not raising a pacifist.  But we do limit his television/computer time, and he does get out and about running a fair amount.   He is not lugging a milk pale back in from the cow barn every morning, but he is your typically active skinny bouncy little kid.

Based on my incredibly non-scientific observations, the Gameboy-type devices are the zombie creating devices.  While the games do have the advantage of being interactive (versus the passive television I grew up with)  their portability allows them to be an all consuming device.

Edward Harrison, Credit Writedowns, June 2011, Hat Tip NC.
My wife, a trained Montessori teacher and school director, was trying to show me some results from studies about video games and anti-social behavior. She often claims that studies demonstrate that increased video game usage is highly correlated with perceived anti-social behavior in boys. I am always very skeptical of these studies because I remember playing a decent number lot of video games and I know my friends did as well and I never considered any of us to be anti-social (well almost any of us).
So, she read me this from a presentation handout from the recent American Montessori Society (AMS) conference in Chicago called “Boys Will Be Boys”. The handout reads:
“Every investigator who has correlated the amount of time that a child or adolescent or young adult spends playing video games with that student’s academic performance has found a negative correlation.” – Sax
“The strength of the evidence linking video games to antisocial behavior is every bit as strong as the evidence linking second-hand smoke to lung cancer, or lead paint poisoning in infancy to lower IQ scores.” – Sax
Note that a copy of the handout, quoted above, of Biff Maier’s “Boys Will Be Boys” can be found here .

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