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Perspectives on youth and technology

Family Matters: Youth Exposure to Violence and Sex in Media

How often are youth exposed to sex on TV, online, and in games? What about violence? Find out all the statistics. Read More

Meaningless Infographic

Meaningless Infographic

I clicked on the infographic link, and I find it pretty meaningless. For example, according to the infographic 26% percent of youth find that all or almost all of the video games they play are violent. But is someone plays 100% violent video games for 1 hour per day, they are getting the same exposure to violent video games as someone who plays 4 hours per day, but only 25% of what they play is violent. It kind of like asking people what kind of alcohol they drink to infer how much alcohol they consume. Someone drinking a little bit of whiskey can consume less alcohol than someone drinking lots of beer.

If you go the actual “study” upon which the infographic is based up, they found that 63% of youth find that some of or many of the video games they play contain violence. Again, not much useful information, but the infographic misleadingly gives the impression that less than half of all youth are being exposed to any media violence at all.

http://innovativepublichealth.org/bulletins/growing-up-with-media-exposu...

The study seems to be a poorly worded and poorly constructed poll, and the infographic is even worse.

Findings are meaningful and well described

Thank you for sharing your feedback.

I agree that playing 2 hours of violent video games per week when one plays games 2 hours a week, is different than playing 2 hours of violent games when one plays 100 hours a week. The former youth would likely say 'almost all / all' of the games s/he plays depict violence, whereas the latter would say 'almost none / none' of the games do. Note that the same is true for youth who only play 2 hours a week of video games that are non-violent. Because this 'imbalance' is true on both sides of the spectrum, the data are unlikely biased in the way that you suggest. Certainly, to take this issue into account, we adjust for overall time youth play games in analyses that are more complex than infographics allow.

I would suggest that measuring exposure to violence in games is different than measuring alcohol: exposure to alcohol is typically measured as the number of drinks one consumes within a certain time frame (without distinction to type of drink), whereas there are multiple different types of games, thus requiring two questions (i.e., the number and type).

Youth categorized their exposure to violence in games as: 1) Almost none / none, 2) some, 3) many, or 4) almost all / all. The infographic displays the percent of youth who report 'almost all / all' compared to all other youth. The 63% statistic represents something different: Youth who said some, many, or almost all / all compared to those who said that almost none / none of the games they play depict violence.

I look forward to clarifying further musings if they arise.
Michele

More musings... “Because this

More musings...

“Because this 'imbalance' is true on both sides of the spectrum, the data are unlikely biased in the way that you suggest.”

I don't agree. My understanding is that the video games that are the greatest time sinks are the massive muliti-payer online (MMO) games and that most of the MMO games are pretty violent, so it would make sense that people who are spending huge amounts of time playing video games, are more likely to be playing violent video games.

Another potential link would be huge amount of video game playing leading to social isolation, leading to increased aggression, leading to increased interest in violent video games.

But perhaps I am wrong, either way it would be interesting to see what studies back up your assertion.

“I would suggest that measuring exposure to violence in games is different than measuring alcohol: exposure to alcohol is typically measured as the number of drinks one consumes within a certain time frame (without distinction to type of drink), whereas there are multiple different types of games, thus requiring two questions (i.e., the number and type).”

My point was that asking someone do you drink mostly whiskey or mostly beer is meaningless unless you also ask how much whiskey or beer they drink. Similarly asking someone if they mostly play violent video games or mostly non-violent video games is meaningless unless you also ask them how much time they spend playing video games.

Katie

Hi Katie The aim of the

Hi Katie

The aim of the infographic is to give people a general sense of young people's exposures to various types of content in media. As such, it is pretty basic.

My understanding of your earlier point was that there was a bias in the measurement - that it didn't appropriately distinguish between heavy and light gamers. I suggested that while this is true, there is no reason to believe that this is more of a problem - from a measurement perspective - on the 'almost all / all' side of the measure than on the 'almost none / none' side. It would thus, 'balance out' in the infographic. Also, in complex analyses where we're trying to understand the impact of this exposure, which are beyond the scope of the infographic, we would adjust for overall play time.

I agree that the majority of MMOGs have violent content. It certainly is a hypothesis that, as content in games may have a greater impact than in television because of the increased interactivity, the same may be true for MMOG versus non-MMOG games. To my knowledge, there is not yet an extant literature on this; and the examination of this question is well beyond the scope of the infographic. I am not sure that social isolation, in and of itself, increases the impact of the game content. Many young people play games with other people - either in the same room or online however, so I'm also not sure that game playing is leading to isolation among our young people.

It's true that the most specific way to measure alcohol would be to ask the amount and type separately - in which case, the researchers would be faced with a conundrum similar to ours. Typically, however, in the question, the participant is asked how many drinks they consume and then are told to count one glass of beer, one glass of wine, or one shot of hard alcohol as a drink.

Cheers
Michele

“I am not sure that social

“I am not sure that social isolation, in and of itself, increases the impact of the game content. Many young people play games with other people - either in the same room or online however, so I'm also not sure that game playing is leading to isolation among our young people.”

I'm not arguing that playing MMO games leads to social isolation (maybe they do, maybe they don't), instead I was arguing that there is evidence that MMO players spend more time playing than do players of other types of video games.

“The MMORPG group spent significantly more time playing Dark Age of Camelot in the final week of play than any of the other groups spent playing their games — an average of 14.4 hours! Remember, these groups were randomly assigned, and there was no difference in game-playing time among groups at the start of the study.”

http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2008/06/30/are-mmorpgs-addictive/

Plus there is some evidence that social isolation leads to increased aggression, and there is also evidence that the people who are more aggressive are more attractive to more violent media (including violent video games), so it would make sense that socially isolated players who spend huge amounts of time playing video games, are choosing to spend more of their time playing violent video games, than non-violent video games.

Regardless, it may or may not turn out that, on average, violent video game players spend more time playing than non-violent video game players. But what I very much disagree with is the idea that we can ASSUME that youth who prefer non-violent video games are spending the same of time playing as youth who prefer violent video games.

That would be an interesting study, are heavy video game players spending most of their game time playing violent video games? And are light video game players spending most of their game time playing non-violent video games?

“It's true that the most specific way to measure alcohol would be to ask the amount and type separately - in which case, the researchers would be faced with a conundrum similar to ours.”

No, the problem I have with your study is that you only asked the type, and did not ask the amount. Am I missing something? Is that information on the amount in your study and I just didn't see it?

Anyway, looking forward to your next study, and I hope your next infographic will be easier to understand.

Katie

Media use data released next month

Hi Katie

Our media use data, which includes amount of time spent playing games, will be released next month. Please stay tuned!

In the meantime, an example of how we take game time into account in our more complex analyses can be found here: http://innovativepublichealth.org/publications/linkages-between-internet...

Take care
Michele

“In the meantime, an example

“In the meantime, an example of how we take game time into account in our more complex analyses can be found here”

Wow, published in Pediatrics, very impressive.

“Our media use data, which includes amount of time spent playing games, will be released next month. Please stay tuned!”

I will. And thank you for your patience with my sometimes too aggressive comments, I appreciate you taking the time to answer my concerns.

Katie

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Michele Ybarra, MPH, Ph.D., is President and Research Director of a non-profit research organization called the Center for Innovative Public Health Research (CiPHR).

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