Saying that “Video games leads to difficulties in children” reaches beyond the data

More Gaming Leads To More Impulsivity, Attention Difficulties In Children.

Impulsive children with attention problems tend to play more video games, while kids in general who spend lots of time video gaming may also develop impulsivity and attention difficulties, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

“This is an important finding because most research on attention problems has focused on biological and genetic factors rather than on environmental factors,” said Douglas A. Gentile, PhD, of Iowa State University and lead author of the study published this week in the debut issue of APA’s journal Psychology and Popular Media Culture.

Although the findings indicated that playing violent video games also can be linked to impulsivity and attention problems, the overall amount of time spent playing any type of video game proved to be a greater factor, according to the article. This was the case regardless of a child’s gender, race or socioeconomic status.

Tip: Dr. Richard Wiseman (@RichardWiseman on Twitter)

“Linked to” is a deceptive term there. There have been many studies like this. Heavy metal music causes disorders, television viewing causes disorders, same stuff. But there is a fundamental problem in this study. They have not isolated and pinpointed the cause, just a correlation. These things are correlated but so are short skirts and stock market. But they do not necessarily have a causal relationship. There may be some underlying factor that relates them or they may not be related at all.

Dr. Richard Wiseman noted in his tweet: “Yet another causation vs correlation error”. The press loves to do this with headlines. Watch to see if they do again. This headline seemed to reach beyond what the data revealed.

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  3 comments for “Saying that “Video games leads to difficulties in children” reaches beyond the data

  1. F89
    February 26, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    Ah. Another Boogyman from the past, badly re-packaged and presented as a “new danger”.

  2. jack
    February 27, 2012 at 7:00 AM

    i can only speak from personal experience, but both my son and i have bad add and we both play a lot of video games. he has played them since he was old enough to hold the controller and his add is off of the charts. again, this is just my personal experience.

    • M
      March 2, 2012 at 5:40 PM

      Just a theory: perhaps you and your son have more in common than liking video games? Perhaps DNA? or perhaps people with ADD can find more enjoyment in FPSs than in, say, knitting or playing chess?

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