Video games are almost as dangerous to public health as cigarettes?

A new study suggests video games are almost as danger to public health as cigarettes. But as Don Reisinger points out, that argument is ludicrous.

Doom
More anti-gaming garbage Gamespot

According to a new study that will be featured in the Journal of Adolescent Health, "Exposure to violent electronic media has a larger effect than all but one other well known threat to public health." And what exactly is that threat, you ask? "Cigarette smoking."

According to L. Rowell Huesmann of the University of Michigan, "The research clearly shows that exposure to virtual violence increases the risk that both children and adults will behave aggressively."

And yet, Mr. Huesmann and the gang only cite their proof from a collection of studies performed over the past 50 years. And while this may prove to be somewhat helpful in maintaining their fight against "violent" video games, I think it has everything to do with a fear of change. After all, movies and other forms of media were cited in his study, and yet Huesmann focused on video games.

Invariably, the fight against video games always comes down to a discussion on children and what the future of this world will look like if children stay in constant contact with interactive violence. But unfortunately for these anti-video game zealots, the numbers don't back up their arguments.

Simply put, these people have no clue.

If Mr. Huesmann took the time to evaluate the Bureau of Justice Statistics on violent crimes, he probably would have found that during the nineties when such violent titles as Doom, Duke Nukem 3D and Quake hit shelves, total violent crimes dropped by 12 points per 1,000 people. Even worse, all of these games that should have increased the amount of murders didn't do anything of the sort: the murder rate has stayed constant over the past 30 years.

Worse, Mr. Huesmann stated that children are the people we should worry about and an astounding "83 percent" of homes with children currently have video games units.

But it's this argument that I have the biggest problem with. Why does this study presuppose that children are the most common video game players? Didn't Huesmann find that the average of video game players is actually 33 years old and that player has been playing for an average of 12 years? Also, did he forget that the average age of a video game buyer is 38 years old, which would suggest parents know what kind of games their children are playing?

And to solidify that point, did this study mention that 86 percent of children report that their parents gave them permission to play certain games?

Now, it should be noted that I'm not trying to suggest that this newest study is not documented well or is in some way erroneous. All that I'm trying to suggest is maybe this study is pure garbage.

After all, it took me under an hour to find the statistics mentioned above that quite easily refute this study's claim that violence is on the rise because of video games. And yet, the researchers somehow forgot to include these statistics in their findings? To make matters worse, I even proved violence isn't on the rise at all.

Suffice it to say, yet another study has hit a so-called "reputable journal" and once again it proves one simple fact: people don't understand the nature of human beings or video games.

As I've mentioned here before, I have played video games my entire life and although I was a fan of Doom and enjoyed every second of Quake, I never felt the urge to rob a gun store and shoot up my school. And if we look at the statistics of the day, I think we can say with a high degree of certainty that most gamers are the same way.

Make sure you classify this newest study as it is -- pure and unadulterated crap.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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