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  ‘More Research Needed’ in Linking Video Games With Negative Behaviour  
Posted 2007-06-18 by Tony Walsh
The American Medical Association's Council on Science and Public Health has issued a report entitled "Emotional and Behavioral Effects, Including Addictive Potential, of Video Games" which taps into 22 years of scientific literature drawn from the PubMed database. The report contains no new findings, but does provide a handy summary of previous investigation into the impact of video games on health.

The Council on Science and Public Health report refers only to the "potential" benefits and detrimental effects of games, referring to studies which showed an "association" between gaming and negative behavior. This seems a more sensible stance than the one taken by Dr. Peter Jaffe, a University of Western Ontario professor, who contended earlier this year that the effects of entertainment violence (including video games) on children "are measurable and long lasting." My question "Does Violent Media Cause Violence, Or Doesn't It?" still stands--the report indicates "more research" is needed to connect video game content with negative behavior.

Concluding that while video games can be a positive force, the report finds the game industry essentially guilty of nixing the benefits by inappropriately marketing to children. I've summarized the report's recommendations to the AMA as follows:
  • The AMA should work with the FTC, ESRB, and public interest organizations to establish an improved video game content ratings system.
  • The AMA should work with related organizations to educate doctors and families about the health risks of media exposure.
  • The AMA should take the same position as the American Academy of Pediatrics in recommending 1 to 2 hours of total daily screen time (including video games).
  • The AMA should work to increase parental awareness and involvement in moderating media consumption among minors.
  • The AMA should encourage more research on the long-term effects of video games and the internet.
  • The AMA should encourage classifying "Internet/video game addiction" as a formal diagnostic disorder.

Overall, I think the Council on Science and Public Health report has taken a moderate stance on video games, and affirms my personal thoughts on the matter: Parents should step up and get involved in their kids' media consumption; the game industry should stop shooting itself in the foot; more research is needed on the health effects of video games.
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Comment posted by Ace Albion
June 19, 2007 @ 5:18 am
Hi, Tony. I don't know if you saw this study by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) on computer games.


Comment posted by Tony Walsh
June 19, 2007 @ 12:19 pm
Nope, didn't see the study, thanks for the links. Particularly interesting in the context of the recent Manhunt 2 ban in the UK.
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