Studies show lots of interesting things about American society. A recent study showed 80 percent of Americans regularly use the internet, somewhat dispelling the notion that only the elderly show little internet use. Another recent study indicated that middle aged women were the highest at risk for internet addiction.
Now a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 97 percent of kids played video games regularly. The survey group was composed of 1,102 young people between 12 and 17, and also polled their parents on topics.
Boys do hold a slim lead in video game play percentage. While 94 percent of girls now play video games, 99 percent of boys do. Video games may be the great uniter, as race, ethnicity, income, and, for the most part, gender showed little variation. In fact, 7 percent of kids said they didn't even have a computer in their house, but they owned a game console.
The kids also play a lot. Apparently the outdoors is getting lonely, with over half of respondents saying they had played a game the day before. They also play lots of different kinds of games, with 80 percent of respondents saying they played 5 or more games regularly. Among the top games among the kids were "Guitar Hero," "Halo 3," "Madden NFL," solitaire and "Dance Dance Revolution."
Also, apparently the ESRB does little to keep games out of the hands of kids. While 75 percent of parents said they "always" or "sometimes" check their children's games' ratings, a large portion of children listed a "M" or "AO" game as one of their favorites. One clear difference between the boys and the girls was that the boys preferred games with drugs, sex, violence, and other mature themes, with 50 percent of boys saying an "M" or "AO" game was among their favorites. Only 14 percent of girls listed an "M" or "AO" game as one of their top picks.
While some video game censorship bloodhounds may heed the study as a battle cry, its author Joseph Kahne, a study co-author and dean of the education school at Mills College in California, said there's no such thing as a "good" or "bad" game, and that even mature games can have some merit for kids. He states even "violent" games like "Halo" offered "more than average opportunities for players to help one another." Other studies have also shown games improve reflexes. So perhaps parents should not be so quick to blast that "Dead or Alive: Beach Volleyball", after all it is teaching valuable hand eye coordination -- and perhaps even teamwork.
Interestingly, kids who played games like "Halo" or "Smash Brothers" face to face, showed above average interest in civic participation. These kids expressed above average interest in charity and volunteerism. Mimi Ito, an anthropologist describes, "Gaming is the reason to get together -- but they're probably talking about other things."
Rather than criticize, Jesse Schell, a professor of entertainment technology at Carnegie Mellon University, says the study shows that parents should take the time to game with their kid. She states, "If more parents would take the time to play the same things their children are playing -- or even better, play with them -- it would benefit both parents and children."
Around a third of parents said they played games with their children. It may be an increasing trends as most of the parents responding yes were younger than 40, and thus grew up during the early days of console gaming.
Fortunately for America's obesity epidemic, active games seemed quite popular, with many respondents expressing love for "Wii Fit" or "Dance Dance Revolution". Katherine Graden, a Chicago teen is among those who are big on the "Wii Fit". But, she adds, "For me it's always schoolwork first."