young teens use gaming to manage negative emotions

i’m about to reveal how old i am: i was in junior high (9th grade, i think) when a space invaders game got installed in the student union building of a local community college a few miles from my home. and my friend, chris dunlap, and i used to ride our 10-speeds over to schoolcraft community college in suburban detroit to drop quarters. chris was better than i was: clearly he had more quarters. but i remember the manic buzz i would get after playing that game for a while, both unconquerable and spent at the same time.

i played a wii the other day for the first time. the boxing game left me winded.

well, no giant surprise, i suppose, but a new study (reported in this upi article on young teens and gaming) shows that almost all middle school kids play games regularly on consoles or computers. only 6% haven’t played in the past six months. that 6% must be amish, homeless, or attending a waldorf school (like my kids — though my kids both play a bit o’ the ol’ x-box, to the chagrin of their teachers).

some other findings:

– Most 7th and 8th graders — ages 12 to 14 — regularly play violent video games.

– Two-thirds of boys and more than one in four girls reported playing at least one M-rated game “a lot in the past six months,” according to the study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

– The researchers also found one-third of boys and 10 percent of girls play video or computer games almost every day.

– Many children are playing video games to manage their feelings, including anger and stress, and children who play violent games are more likely to play to get their anger out, according to lead author Cheryl K. Olson.

i find that last point to be the most interesting, actually. worth some thought. probably worth some more research.

(ht to ypulse)

6 thoughts on “young teens use gaming to manage negative emotions”

  1. I know this has nothing to do with your post (which is very interesting), but I grew up less than 5 minutes from Schoolcraft College. 9 Mile and Haggerty.

  2. I have a confession. I am addicted to a “violent” video game. It’s called Worms: Open warfare, or something like that. There are 4 worms on your team and you try to blow the other team up before they annihalate you. I have a nearly unbeatable strategy. And I have just recently officially entered my late twenties. I think it’d be interesting to see stats on adults who play video games.

  3. this is interesting. As a side note, my therapist (and many other therapists and most cognitive behavioral therapists now) are saying that “expressing” anger is not how to deal with anger. In fact, they say that expressing it only leads to some part of your brain thinking it’s okay to always express it — which means if the game (or whatever) isn’t there, that you might take it out on a person.

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. There is something really satisfying about (for me) throwing eggs into the bathtub or breaking glasses or china against cement walls. At the same time, I want to be able to handle anger and get to the underlying root (usually, as my therapist also says, pain or fear) so I can actually fix it.

    Anyway, just another perspective.

    (I can hardly wait to read about eddie!)

  4. Unfortunately, I have found that sometimes playing video games is the only interaction that youth have when they are angry or upset. Parents are too busy with their careers and social lives to have time to discuss problems with their kids. Some kids do not feel comfortable talking to their youth leaders because they feel that everything they say will get back to their parents and there will be repercussions.
    Some studies that I have heard of say that playing video games is good for kids to deal with emotions and maintain manual dexterity. Some games are okay but not every waking moment. Limits need to be set and parents and they need to be aware of the games that they are letting letting their kids play.

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