Harvard’s Dr. Cheryl Olson, co-author of Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games, offered GamePolitics some thoughts on research data released today by Iowa State University Prof. Douglas Gentile and Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family.
According to Gentile and Walsh, 8.5% of 8-18 year olds exhibit behaviors similar to those that clinically define compulsive gamblers.
Olson, however, questions their methodology, which involved the collection of data via an online Harris Interactive Poll.
From Dr. Olson:
The concern here is labeling normal childhood behaviors as "pathological" and "addicted." The author [Iowa State University’s Prof. Douglas Gentile] is repurposing questions used to assess problem gambling in adults; however, lying to your spouse about blowing the rent money on gambling is a very different matter from fibbing to your mom about whether you played video games instead of starting your homework.
It’s also very questionable whether kids as young as 8 can accurately fill out a self-administered online questionnaire, especially one that uses questions designed for adults.
That said, the study is well intended, and a good reminder to discuss rules and set limits with your kids re: electronic game use.