In a survey that's sure to be taken the wrong way by somebody, researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have discovered links between "problematic gaming" and negative health behaviours like smoking, doing drugs and fighting. But first, good news!
the good news is that the study, which surveyed 4028 adolescents about their gaming habits, found that there were no major connections between gaming and increased violence and falling grades. In fact, teens that participated in modest amounts of gaming were less likely to smoke, got better grades and were probably prettier than other kids. I'm just guessing on that last one.
Of the 4028 teens surveyed, 51.2 per cent reported that they played video games, which accounted for 76.3 per cent of the boys and 29.2 per cent of the girls. Most of these teens game in moderation and have never touched a cigarette, bottle of booze, or whatever it is they put crack in. A crack jug. that sounds good, let's run with it.
So what's the problem?
Problematic gamers are the problem. Using three signs associated with the Minnesota Impulse Disorder Inventory - problems trying to cut back on gaming, increased anxiety when not gaming, and relief when they finally do play - researchers identified a small percentage of the gamers as problematic gamers.
Only 5.8 per cent of the boys and 3 per cent of girls fell into this category, but these were some bad boys and girls.
The study determined that boys and girls that identified as problematic gamers were more likely to smoke cigarettes, do drugs, suffer from depression, or resort to violence. Girls in particular were more prone to violence, with a small but significant number indicating they get into fights regularly and carry weapons to school.
What does this mean? The data is wide open to interpretation. Perhaps girls from tougher neighborhoods tend to game more. Maybe depressives find gaming a good way to lose themselves.
Perhaps gaming causes depression? No, that's just silly.
The study isn't without its major flaws in any case. Researchers asked teenagers questions. Do you know how hard it is to get a straight answer out of a teenager? I've been a teenager previously, and I lied like a champ, often for no reason.
You can read the full study for a more comprehensive picture. It's wordy and the language is a bit dense, but it's all there.