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For college students, video games may not be an innocuous pursuit

January 27, 2009 | 10:32 am

Video games and Internet use among young people get a bad rap for a number of reasons, from conceivably being a factor in childhood obesity to fostering violent tendencies.

VideoA new study found a possible association between video game playing and a number of undesirable behaviors among college students, such as drinking and using drugs. For those college students, games may also be linked to poorer relationships with friends and family.

Some findings in the study, published online recently in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, weren't that surprising: Of the 813 undergraduate students from various colleges surveyed, video games were far more popular among men than women; the majority of men said they played video games weekly or more frequently, while most women hadn't played even one game in the last year. However, despite that, similarities appeared among all players of video games, regardless of gender.

Video games were correlated with drinking, and playing violent video games was linked with drinking in young men. The games were also linked to drug use. Those who played video games and violent video games were more likely to have poor quality relationships with friends and parents. Also, men and women who lived at home reported playing video games more than those who lived in a residence hall or apartment.

The study authors, led by Laura M. Padilla-Walker, an assistant professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, caution against generalizing the findings since the sample population was made up primarily of middle-class white college students. However, they note that video game use may be influential on young peoples' lives: "While the correlational nature of our data precludes causal inferences, these findings do suggest that video game use may be a possible risk factor for emerging adult development."

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

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