Shooting holes in gaming theories – Articles – Games – Digital Life

Young people are being corrupted by a seductive new form of popular entertainment. Oddly enough, this seems to happen in every generation.

In his 1883 book Traps for the Young, US postal inspector Anthony Comstock warned of the sinful hazards of reading dime novels. In his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, child psychiatrist Fredric Wertham warned of the psychosexual perils of poring over comic books.

In their 2008 book, Grand Theft Childhood, Harvard Medical School psychiatrists Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson warn about video games. The gist of their warning: don’t jump to conclusions.

The couple, who are also the parents of a video game-playing teenage son, surveyed more than 1200 US school students aged 12-14 and 500 of their parents.

Their survey did not directly ask about serious criminal behaviour, in part to avoid children incriminating themselves, but their book uses statistics published by the Justice Department to conclude that “videogame popularity and real-world youth violence have been moving in opposite directions.