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01/19/2011 at 12:00 PM ET

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Naughty Cal on

The video game study is another example of the junk science emanating from a small group of researchers out of Iowa State whose sole intent seems to be to demonize the medium. To begin with, the headline is misleading. It says that video games can CAUSE mental health problems, but this study only shows a CORRELATION between the two. Implying causation is misleading and irresponsible.

According to an article on the study, “its definition of ‘pathological gaming’ is neither scientifically nor medically accepted and the type of measure used has been criticized by other scholars….Other outcomes are also measured using dubious instruments when well-validated tools are readily available. In addition, because the effect sizes of the outcomes are mainly trivial, it leaves open the possibility the author is simply interpreting things as negatively as possible. [The researcher] had publicly acknowledged a mistake in the methodology used for a similar study published in Psychological Science last year.

“The error – which he acknowledged to ABC News in a blog posting after publication – arises from the fact that the sample group for the study was not randomly chosen. Instead, it was a ‘convenience’ sample of individuals who agreed to participate in the survey, a significant factor that greatly compromises that study’s purported findings.”

Also, the finding that violent games lead to violent fantasies is insignificant. This is different than actual violent behavior (which has still yet to be proven with any sort of study that does not suffer from serious flaws such as the ones listed above), and may actually be beneficial to kids, who use these fantasies to overcome fear and anger they experience in the real world.


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