Late last week GamePolitics reported on a Brigham Young University research study which linked video game play to a variety of negative behaviors in college students (see: BYU Study: Video Games Are Bad For You in So Many Ways).
The research, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, found gamers more likely to drink and use drugs and to have poor family and friend relationships. Among women, game play was linked to reduced self-esteem.
While Edge Online and Kotaku are reporting somewhat conciliatory comments by the study’s authors, their research findings remain unchanged. For example, Edge spoke with BYU’s Dr. Larry Nelson, who stressed that the study found correlation between gaming and negative behaviors, not causation:
The study absolutely does not find that videogames cause this behavior. We’ve repeatedly tried to emphasize that in the study itself. It was all correlation…
One factor [of increased substance use] could be the experimentation that goes on with [drugs and alcohol]… If we had done a study specifically on videogaming … I’m sure [benefits] are there. There’s no doubt they’re there. We’re not saying there is nothing at all positive about videogames.
Nuclear Geek details an exchange with BYU’s Laura Walker. The professor, who previously told the Deseret News, "Everything we found associated with video games came out negative," attempted to clarify her remarks and indulged in a bit of the media blame game:
One study does not claim to be representative of all gamers, and we were in no way making that claim. We are not even claiming generalizability to the 18-25 age group, this is just what we found in our sample.
Media has a way of really spinning these stories that are not always accurate. However, in our study, we did find that video game use was related to only negative behaviors for students this age. Does that mean this applies to all gamers? No. Does that mean video game use causes these outcomes? Certainly not. It is possible that video game use could be positive in a number of ways, but given the variables we measured in our study, it was related to only negative outcomes…
GP: To be perfectly honest, I don’t see the BYU authors backpedaling, as Kotaku reported. Nor do Dr. Nelson’s comments to Edge explaining that the research team found correlation vs. causation change anything.