Last week, I blogged about (and The Press Democrat carried an article about) a new study that suggested children between the ages of 8 and 18 were capable of becoming addicted to video games. To briefly recap, I (and most folks who cover the game industry) found a whole mess of things wrong with the study, the most significant of which was that it was using questions designed to detect gambling addiction in adults to diagnose video game addiction in children.
One thing that escaped my notice when I wrote the initial post, however, was this excellent item from Gary Langer, ABC News’ director of polling. According to Langer, the survey whose results lie at the heart of the survey on video game addiction didn’t use a sample of randomly selected individuals, but rather a group of kids who’d agreed to fill out online surveys in exchange for things like coupons and free pizza.
Now, I’ll leave it for you to decide whether filling out online questionnaires or playing video games is a more productive use of a child’s time. The real point worth taking away is that the data that assistant professor Douglas Gentile used to conclude that kids could become addicted to video games is about as scientifically valid as what you or I would get if we quizzed the kids going in and out of Santa Rosa Plaza.
(Apologies for not posting this a little sooner. It was a busy week here at the news factory.)