Another day, another new study, another conflicting viewpoint: New research from Brigham Young University claims that playing videogames has a negative impact on relationships, results in lower self-esteem and more than doubles a person's chance of becoming a pothead.
The research, based on the responses of 813 undergraduate students from across the U.S., came as part of an ongoing study called Project Ready, an examination of how young people in the U.S. are making the transition to adulthood. Alex Jensen, a BYU senior and co-author on the paper, expressed surprise at the results, saying he didn't expect videogames to have such a wide-ranging negative impact. "I assumed violent video games would be related to lower relationship quality with friends and family," Jensen told the Deseret News. "I didn't expect regular video games - nonviolent video game use - would be correlated to lower relationship quality."
The impact of videogames on relationships is described as statistically "modest," but according to BYU Professor Laura Walker, the lead author on the report, "Everything we found associated with videogames came out negative." Women who play videogames "a lot" have lower self-esteem (presumably than women who don't play) while gamers who play daily smoke marijuana twice as much as "other players" and three times as much as people who don't play games at all.
Despite the results, Walker said the study doesn't mean that all videogames are bad. "I don't want parents to go out and yank all video games," she said. "It's like TV. We have to choose what's good and bad and practice moderation." Her family owns a Wii and her husband and son play together, she said, adding that gaming together can be a good way for parents to relate to their kids.