Video Games are Destroying Boys and Men? Not Again.

Decrying the man crisis like it's 2005.

Posted Jun 11, 2012


We've heard it before, in so many ways. I've tossed some of the books, but I still have a few on my shelves, as archeological artifacts, you might say. The Decline of Men by Guy Garcia. Save the Males by Kathleen Parker. Guyland by Michael Kimmel.

Now we are hearing it again, this time from a distinguished emeritus professor of psychology at Stanford, Philip G. Zimbardo, along with Nikita Duncan, in a book called The Demise of Guys. I haven't read it, but I was impressed with the way Tracy Clark-Flory disemboweled it over at Salon

"No, you haven't stumbled across an article from 2005," she wrote on May 30th. "Yes, we're still talking about the so-called 'masculinity crisis.'"

The authors, she writes, "zero in on two popular culprits: Video games and online porn." And she continues:

Of course other causes are indicated — like “widespread fatherlessness and changing family dynamics, media influences, environmentally generated physiological changes that decrease testosterone and increase estrogen, the problematic economy and also the dramatic rise of gals.” But technology gets the brunt of it: Zimbardo and Duncan lament how, “from the earliest ages, guys are seduced into excessive and mostly isolated viewing and involvement with texting, tweeting, blogging, online chatting, emailing, and watching sports on TV or laptops” (with no mention of how girls experience the same).

I urge you to read Clark-Flory's (not too lengthy) review. As she notes, the evidence for these kinds of things is flimsy. "There are legitimate and significant social changes afoot that deserve careful, critical and nuanced analysis," she writes. "Unfortunately, this book doesn’t do it."

(See also Mark McCormack's Psych Today blog for another review of the book.)