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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New brain study on addiction to violent video games.

The age old debate over the effects of video games on the brain is back. On Monday, the Radiological Society of North America released information on a new research that shows violent video games can effect the brain. At the same time, News.com Australia reported that mental health professionals in Australia are considering video game addiction and internet addition as official mental disorders.
These studies are far from definitive, given the large volume of game studies over the years. But if games are classified as harmful or addictive, that could limit their reach. Parents might proactively decide to crack down on violent video games, which have become a big part of the mass market. Studies like this are a force that could shove gamers back into the closet.
The new research conducted by the RSNA took 22 young men, ages 18 to 29, and instructed 11 of the 22 males to play 10 hours of violent video games for one week and then stop playing completely the second week. Then, the other 11 men were instructed to not play any violent video games throughout the two week period.
Before, during and after the two week period, the subjects were given tests via MRI’s to monitor their brain function. The results showed that after the week of game play, there was less activity in the left inferior frontal lobe during the emotional test and less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex during the counting test. Yang Wang, a medical doctor and an assistant research professor in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine said, “These findings indicate that violent video game play has a long term effect on brain functioning.”
While these findings are coming to light, mental health professionals in Australia are being asked by parents to include video game addiction and internet addiction in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The professionals might declare the  addictions as an official disorder called pathological internet misuse. If that happens, parents are hoping this will encourage further study on the matter.
The news stirs up old memories of the negative stigma often associated with video games. As video games jump into the mainstream more and more every year, studies and alleged official disorders like the ones mentioned are likely to pop up from time to time and thwart the advance of games as a universal medium. It also shows that, despite a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, the issue of violent video games is far from dead.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A new study Pew Institute finds most teens have seen bad behavior on social media sites:survey

The majority of teenagers who use social networking websites say their peers are mostly kind to one another online, but 88% still say they've witnessed people being mean and cruel on such sites, according to a new study. Fifteen percent say they've been the target of bad behavior on social media sites.
The findings come from a report called "Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites: How American teens navigate the new world of 'digital citizenship,'" which is based on seven focus groups with teens and a survey of 799 youths 12 to 17 and their parents.
The study, conducted by Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, found that social media use is widespread among teens, with 95% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the survey saying they use the Internet. Of those, 80% said they use social media sites.
When it comes to bad conduct online, 80% of teen social media users in the survey said they have defended a victim of meanness and cruelty and 79% said they have told someone to stop mean behavior on a social network site. However, 21% said they have joined in on the harassment.
"Social networking sites have created new spaces for teens to interact, and they witness a mixture of altruism and cruelty," said Amanda Lenhart, the study's lead author. "For most teens, these are exciting and rewarding spaces. But the majority have also seen a darker side."
Teens in the survey said they received advice about online safety from a variety of people. Parents were the top source, with 86% saying they have received advice from their parents about how to use the Internet safely and responsibly, and 70% said they have received advice from a teacher or other adult at school.
Teens in the survey reported that parents were also the biggest influence on shaping what they think is appropriate or inappropriate behavior when going online or using a cellphone. At the same time, 18% saidthat no one has influenced them about their attitudes toward online behavior.