Video games linked to poor relationships with friends, family

January 23, 2009

A new study connects young adults' use of video games to poorer relationships with friends and family - and the student co-author expresses disappointment at his own findings.

Brigham Young University undergrad Alex Jensen and his faculty mentor, Laura Walker, publish their results Jan. 23 in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

The research is based on information collected from 813 college students around the country. As the amount of time playing video games went up, the quality of relationships with peers and parents went down.

"It may be that young adults remove themselves from important social settings to play video games, or that people who already struggle with relationships are trying to find other ways to spend their time," Walker said. "My guess is that it's some of both and becomes circular."

For the record, Walker did not stand in the way of her family's wish for a Nintendo Wii. Jensen had hoped to find some positive results as justification for playing Madden NFL.

Study participants reported how often they play video games. They also answered a battery of questions measuring relationship quality, including how much time, trust, support and affection they share with friends and parents.

But the researchers say video games do not themselves mean "game over" for a relationship because the connection they found is modest.

"Relationship quality is one of a cluster of things that we found to be modestly associated with video games," Walker said. "The most striking part is that everything we found clustered around video game use is negative."

Statistical analyses also revealed that the more young adults play video games, the more frequent their involvement in risky behaviors like drinking and drug abuse. Young adults who played video games daily reported smoking pot almost twice as often as occasional players, and three times as often as those who never play.

For young women, self-worth was low if their video game time was high.

And despite heavy involvement with the research, Jensen does not admit the results to his own family. For now he holds out hope that future research will exonerate consoles or games designed for multiple players.

He's also curious how video games may affect young couples. Nearly three-fourths of college-aged men in the study played video games regularly. By comparison, just 17 percent of their female counterparts played more than once a month.

"The gender imbalance begs the question of whether chasing a new high score beats spending quality time with a girlfriend or wife," Jensen said.

Source: Brigham Young University

Explore further: Social mobile gaming boosts rehabilitation for physically impaired patients

Related Stories

Social mobile gaming boosts rehabilitation for physically impaired patients

November 20, 2017
The researchers from Imperial have designed a video game called Balloon Buddies, which is a tool that enables those recovering from conditions such as a stroke to engage and play together with healthy volunteers such as therapists ...

MekaMon robot from Reach Robotics is now ready for battle

November 20, 2017
(Tech Xplore)—Talk about game-changing robots. A UK team have created a robot weighing about 2.2 pounds that you just take out of the box and proceed to put together with an easy setup, to unleash it into play either in ...

Amsterdam wins battle to host EU medicines agency after Brexit

November 20, 2017
Amsterdam on Monday won a fierce fight to host the European Medicines Agency after it leaves London, securing one of the most prized spoils of Britain's decision to leave the EU.

Multiplayer video games: Researchers discover link between skill and intelligence

November 15, 2017
Researchers at the University of York have discovered a link between young people's ability to perform well at two popular video games and high levels of intelligence.

Study shows video games could cut dementia risk in seniors

November 16, 2017
Could playing video games help keep the brain agile as we age?

Researchers discover new use for ultrasound technology to help amputees

November 15, 2017
There's hope for a better life for people who've lost an arm or leg, thanks to new research funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense.

Recommended for you

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

Exercising and eating well are greater contributors to health than standing at work

November 21, 2017
By now you've probably heard the edict from the health community: Sitting is the new smoking. Perhaps you've converted to a standing desk, or maybe you have a reminder on your phone to get up once an hour and walk around ...

Motorcycle crashes cause five times as many deaths as car accidents, six times the health costs

November 20, 2017
Motorcycle accidents are costly in terms of lives and health care costs. Compared with car accidents, motorcycle accidents cause 3 times the injuries, 6 times the medical costs and 5 times the deaths, found new research in ...

9 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bob_Kob
4.4 / 5 (5) Jan 23, 2009
Sure they found a link, but these people end up doing so not because of the game, but because it distracts them from reality. Remove the games and theyd probably turn to alcohol and tv.
OBSL33t
5 / 5 (3) Jan 23, 2009
I think this study would depend on what kind of games are being played.
Online games are a pretty social affair, as a majority of mmo gamers make friends in the game's community.
Many have even found girlfriends on such games.
However, I can see how a person with an escapist personality could loose touch with their wives and family.
In those situations it's likely that there's other elements involved in detachment.
googleplex
5 / 5 (1) Jan 23, 2009
Given the number of disfunctional families and "friends" is it any wonder that some kids prefer to be in a vid game. I conject that the issue is not the game. The issue is society and the solution for kids is the game. Kids will choose the path of least resistance. They can also choose who they interact with on line. That is not the case with family and class mates. I know people who have found partners, married and had kids through these games. Without the vid game their quality of life would have suffered.
Some people will become addicted. But isn't it better than alternative addictions. Obviously it is not perfect, but there is clearly more depth to the kids playing video games is bad issue.
Sunnydips
not rated yet Jan 24, 2009
I have a feeling that the people who this article are about had relationship/friendship issues before they started playing EQ and WOW...
Sunnydips
not rated yet Jan 24, 2009
I have a feeling that the people who this article is about had relationship/friendship issues before they started playing EQ and WOW...

vanderMerwe
5 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2009
What's the problem? Kids who play videogames rarely commit crimes and they don't tend to drug.

When my son was in high school a few years ago, he characterised his school population as broken roughly into thirds, viz, jocks, heads (druggies) and nerds (typically gamers). He didn't know of anyone who straddled those divides.

His former high school has just put in an astroturfed sports complex for the jocks that costs about as much as the rest of the high school and there has been a continuing expensive drug abatement program that doesn't seem to reduce druggie numbers in the slightest.

The nerds don't cause any trouble and, as you might expect given how American public schools work, don't get any money spent on them even though the nerd subculture encompasses virtually all of the really bright, capable kids.

My son was one of the nerds. He speaks fluent Japanese (took college classes in high school) and will be graduating from UC Santa Barbara in April. He's already working as an editor for a major technical media firm.

This is the sort of nonsense you'd expect to come out of a university that has a "School of Family Life"

http://news.byu.e...mes.aspx

It's little wonder that educational costs are spiraling out of control when universities provide sheltered employment for these sort of people.

columbiaman
5 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2009
It's "studies" like this from completely biased universities that give video games bad reputations. BYU is a well known school that happens to have a decidedly Mormon population. of course this adds a bias to the sort of relationships that circle around video games. I am a student at Columbia University and my group of friends and I are very intelligent engineers who meet very frequently to play video games and watch movies and socialize around both. Also, this has not affected my relationship with my girlfriend in the least. With the interactivity available in video games nowadays, they often become the best reasons to gather friends around and play.
docknowledge
2 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2009
Good comments!

Video games, in my limited experience, don't have a value that's readily appreciated by non-users. What outsiders see is people who suddenly find meaning where they themselves do not, or do not want to.

On the other hand, there's a certain element of truth to the observation that gaming doesn't provide a balanced mix of what's available in reality. Try finding a church in Second Life. I found a person in one, one time. Science? Go to the beautiful site with models of all major spacecraft, and a theater with live footage. No one there. Go to one of the few museums. No one there. But. Go to a popular sex store? A dozen people at any time. Sex clubs? Sometimes dozens of people. It's hard to claim Second Life promotes family unity.
Egnite
not rated yet Mar 11, 2009
Lol tricky11, 4/4 posts about wow gold. U must love wow....

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.