Do video games cause mental health problems?

Posted by STARR KESHET

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has issued an official warning over what it terms a "flawed study" that alleges a link between video game play and mental health problems in children.


Indeed, the study was authored by Douglas Gentile, who is routinely questioned by other scholars for exaggerating the purported harmful effects of video games.

"We commend credible, independent, and verifiable research about computer and video games. However, this research is just more of the same questionable findings by the same author in his campaign against video games," Richard Taylor, a senior VP at ESA told TG Daily in an e-mailed statement.

Do video games cause mental health problems?"There simply is no concrete evidence that computer and video games cause harm. In fact, a wide body of research has shown the many ways games are being used to improve our lives through education, health and business applications."

Unsurprisingly, Taylor told us that the latest study contains a significant number of flaws.

"For example, its definition of 'pathological gaming' is neither scientifically nor medically accepted and the type of measure used has been criticized by other scholars," he said. 



"Other outcomes are also measured using dubious instruments when well-validated tools are readily available. In addition, because the effect sizes of the outcomes are mainly trivial, it leaves open the possibility the author is simply interpreting things as negatively as possible."

Taylor also noted that Gentile had publicly acknowledged a mistake in the methodology of a similar study published in Psychological Science last year. 



"The error - which he acknowledged to ABC News in a blog posting after publication - arises from the fact that the sample group for the study was not randomly chosen.

"Instead, it was a 'convenience' sample of individuals who agreed to participate in the survey, a significant factor that greatly compromises that study's purported findings."