Which Came First, The Hardcore Gamer Or The Bad Parent?

A recent study conducted by researchers at Michigan State University found that the more time school students spent playing games, the more negative an opinion they held about their parents. It seems like a simple matter of cause and effect, but which is which?

The Michigan State University study polled more than 500 students in years 7-9, exploring both their video game habits and their relationship with their parents. The results showed a significant increase in negative opinion of parental figures in subjects that spent a greater than average amount of time glued to the television screen, controller in hand.

Subjects experienced a wide range of negative thoughts and feelings. Some felt their parents nagged them too much, which would make sense for a habitual gamer. Others felt their parents didn't spend enough time with them, which is pretty much the opposite of nagging.

So we've got a common destination with several different ways to get there, made worse that we're not even sure about the motivation for taking the trip in the first place.

"Does a parent's negative interactions with their child drive the child into the world of video games, perhaps to escape the parent's negativity?" lead researcher Linda Jackson, a professor of psychology, asked after completing the study. "Or, alternatively, does video-game playing cause the child to perceive his or her relationship with the parent as negative?"

Nancy Lee Heath, psychology professor at McGill University, tries to explain children's motivations to game.

"We do know that video gaming is a way of having other needs met, especially for boys, but some girls, too," she said. "It gives them a sense of control, a sense of mastery, it allows them to connect with others in a social way that they may be more comfortable with.

Ah, that makes sense. So children look to video games to give them a sense of control and belonging?

"It also gives them a sense of escape," Heath added. "(Youths) tell us they'll forget about the fights they're having with their parents or their friends. It gives them a way of escaping the negative feelings they're having and stresses they're having."

So children turn to gaming when running away from their parents, seeking a replacement for an absent authority figure or friends, hiding from a harsh reality, or — and this is not my scientific opinion — just having fun.

And then they hate their parents, more so than other children. Why?

Heath describes it as the sort of loop effect. Kids turn to gaming for whatever reason, parent objects for whatever reason, tempers flare, kids lose themselves deeper into gaming, the parent objects harder — it's a perpetual negative opinion machine.

It's a vicious cycle that a little understanding and patience could break. I know those are hard to find these days, but surely there's enough to make a kid not bad mouth his or her parents in a scientific survey.

Of course this doesn't mean every "hardcore gamer" hates his or her parents. Some of them are particularly understanding orphans. The rest of them would sell you their parents for five dollars and some gum.

Hardcore gamer kids think less of their parents [The Vancouver Sun]


    if you replaced gaming with something else you would still get the same results.

    Doesn't necessarily mean they HATE their parents, just that they expressed negativity toward them. It used to annoy me when I was a kid and my mum kept telling me to get off the computer, but I didn't hate her for it. And I wonder what questions they asked in these interviews, "hey Johnie, when your mum and dad tell you to stop playing those computer games you love so much, does this make you happy or sad?" "Uh, sad." "Booyah, now we can blame video games for the sorry state of family units in the 21st century."

    I love the language "Kids turn to gaming". Kids turn to gaming because its fun. Games have just about replaced toys and television for childrens entertainment.

    I'd say my three kids play too much games but, and maybe I'm giving myself too much credit, I don't think they'd describe me of being negligent or nagging.

    And I don't mind that they play a lot of games because they're school marks are good and they have other things in their lives, sport, friends, dancing, skateboarding, music. I'm happy for them to play a lot of games (and hell I play with them) as long as thats not all they do.

    The article doesn't have a lot of info on the study either (the Kotaku article is actually more even handed).

    So we don't know what questions were actually asked and how leading they might have been eg. Researcher: 'Do your parents nag you?', Kid starting at DS: 'Yeah, I guess'.

    It also doesn't say what pecentage of the kids were categorised as 'hardcore gamers', what constituted that label and what proportion of that group had a negative opinion on their parents. I need numbers darn it! Not vague words like 'significant increase'.

    I've been playing games all the damn time for almost 25 years and my parents are awesome. Even when I was in years 7-9, I still had a good relationship with my parents.

    I usually wouldn't try to disprove a scientific study with an anecdotal outlyer, but unless this article is intentionally leaving out a lot of detail, I don't think the study has very sound scientific method in the first place.

    Anyone else get the feeling that in a week or two the ACL and other of their like are going to jump on the "Michigan State University found that the more time school students spent playing games, the more negative an opinion they held about their parents." while completely ignoring the other part that states that the cause is unknown and it could just as likely to be caused by parents than it is by videogames.

    Correlation isn't the same as causation. You can do a survey and find a lot of people with yellow teeth that have lung cancer, but it doesn't mean lung cancer causes yellow teeth.

      Indeed. Another videogame study that thinks that correlation is causation.

        The classic example of this is the study that anyone who studies statisticcs at uni will learn.
        in Sweden they found a direct correlation between the number of stalks and the number of babies born.
        maybe the cartoons were right stalks do deliver babies.

    Would you rather your kids played videogames or did drugs?

    The defense rests its case your honor.

    I hardcore gamed from age 5 and I love parents

    Videogames are another distraction for kids in the 21st century. When they have a problem, they go play videogames until the problem goes away. It is not just videogames but kids (and adults) who become addicted to anything need to learn to face their problems and not ignore it by immersing themselves in another world.

    So, in summary, they're saying that if a parent neglects or always reacts negatively to their children, it will drive them more to anti-social activities (Nothing to do with computer games). Wow, that's science for you. I was the same as a child, lots of TV, hardcore gamer, voracious reader, spent hours in the bush, all escapes if I was angry at my parents. I didn't hate them, and we took the time to sort out our problems so nothing ever festered.

    Really, they wasted their time on that research when they could have been doing something productive like finding ways for parents to engage with their children and take interest in their hobbies.

    I'm a more hard-core gamer than my son, so he doesn't like video games as much and wants to play baseball. Masterful strategy. Now, if I could just get my wife to understand.

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