Effects of Video Games: Researchers Comment

Article excerpt

INTERVIEWS with those who study the effects of video games reveal these themes:

Deciding the games' inherent worth must take into account the number of hours played per week.

It also must consider the violent, aggressive, or educational themes of the particular games played; the attitude of parents or guardians in controlling the use of games; and the balancing of game use with other pursuits: family chores, reading, sports, homework, family time.

Here are some comments:

- "Video games have been primarily violence-themed for many years," says Thomas Radecki, research director for the National Coalition for Television Violence.

In a coalition study released this year, 71 percent of current video games licensed by Nintendo are high in violence and harmful for children, it says.

Only 20 percent were considered suitable. "The research is overwhelming that the more you have an individual rehearse themes of murder and mayhem, that the player cannot help learning those ways of thinking and acting," explains Dr. Radecki.

The National Coalition has been lobbying government to appoint an unbiased panel of experts to investigate the research on video games done to date and to fund additional studies, if needed. If the panel concludes there is evidence of harm, the coalition asks that warning labels be placed on all toys and games with violent themes.

- "Though it may be intuitively reasonable that the violence of these games is harmful, there has been no convincing research to substantiate this," says Geoffrey Loftus, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Washington and author of "Mind at Play: The Psychology of Video Games."

Mr. Loftus finds a host of benefits in video game playing: the building of computer literacy - helping kids be comfortable with keyboards, programs, spread sheets, and computer sticks. …