Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Violent Video Games Are Almost As Bad As Smoking

If you believe the headline, I have some land in the Everglades that you might be interested in buying. However, some researcher from the University of Michigan is getting his 15 minutes of fame this week by making this statement:

Exposure to violent electronic media has a larger effect than all but one other well-known threat to public health. The only effect slightly larger than the effect of media violence on aggression is that of cigarette smoking on lung cancer.

We also get this:

The findings, which are reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health, support earlier research which showed that children who watch violent television shows and who identify with the characters and believe they are real are more likely to be aggressive as adults.

Anybody see the little switch-a-roo that they are trying to pull? They are equating exposure to violent media with psychopathic behavior in which the subject believes the TV characters are real. That is not exactly the same thing.

As explained in more detail at both Slashdot and Techdirt, what really happened is the researcher reviewed 50 years worth of studies, cherry picked a few things that look like they support what he already believes, and published his amazing new findings.

Shoddy research, shoddy publishing, and shoddy journalism for whoever ran with this story, but I digress.

I don't at all like violent video games or violent movies. I don't believe children should watch much of it, unless depicting violence helps viewers understand the depth, breadth or importance of a subject, such as the Band of Brothers series.

Think about this: video games in general cause lack of movement in children, which, in turn, can lead to obesity, which I believe is now the greatest health risk for children in America, since 16 percent of 6-19 years old are obese, and 70% of obese children grow up to be obese adults.

Here's another real statistic: for children born in the United States, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with Type2 diabetes is 30 percent for girls and 40 percent for boys.
The topper: 60 percent of obese children ages 5 to 10 are diagnosed with at least one cardiovascular disease.

Be careful about what you read, be wary of alarmist publications. Check your facts.

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