Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Grand Theft Childhood

With Jack Thompson self-immolating today, it seems like a good time to mention Grand Theft Childhood The Surprising Truth About Video Games and What Parents Can Do. Written by husband-and-wife research team Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson (both on the psychiatry faculty of Harvard Medical School), it's receiving positive buzz from the gaming community as a balanced look at video games and their effects on the developing personalities of children and teenagers.

Adam LaMosca, another of the fine writers from Gamers with Jobs, wrote an excellent article for The Escapist titled Grand Theft Childhood and the Case Against Media Sensationalism, and it's a solid discussion of the topics explored in the book. Dan Holmes also sent me a link to an interview with Cheryl Olson over at VGPro. The interview includes transcripts of several interviews the author conducted with children about video games and how they felt after playing them.

In case you're wondering about credentials, Adam's article spells it out clearly:
Kutner and Olson introduce their subject, in part, with an overview of a $1.5 million study on youth violence and gaming they coordinated at the Harvard Medical School between 2004 and 2006. Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, its core components were written surveys from more than 1,200 middle school students and over 500 parents, and interviews with dozens of teen and preteen boys and their parents.

Please note: a study not funded by a "family" organization or the gaming industry. I think that immediately gives them credibility that many other researchers just don't have right now. Too often, all that's required is to "follow the money" to cast doubt on research findings.

Thanks to Sean, whose e-mail prompted the post.

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