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Opinionation: FYI, Video Games And Porn Are "Ruining A Generation."

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The 24-hour news cycle has ratcheted up the amount of fear in the news, particularly for those of us in North America, and CNN has recently published an editorial providing a nearly perfect template, no matter how well-intentioned it might be, of how to write that kind of hype.

Written by Dr. Philip Zimbardo (well-known to undergraduate psychology students as the man behind the Stanford prison experiment) and Nikita Duncan, the editorial headline screams "'The Demise of Guys': How video games and porn are ruining a generation", quoting the title of the book the two are currently pushing. Initially claiming that video game and porn "overuse" are problems, the editorial doubles-down on that claim by stating games and porn can create "arousal addictions" (a term that appears to be hard to locate in peer-reviewed literature about addictions, and which certainly is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), in which "(s)ameness is soon habituated" and "newness heightens excitement" - which the authors themselves acknowledge does not conform with the accepted definition of a drug addiction - they then go on to explain the dire consequences of video game and porn "addiction", "...creating a generation of risk-averse guys who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school and employment."

You read that right: A whole generation which can't hold down relationships, make it through school, or keep a job.

Keep reading, after the jump.


To support their argument, the authors cite three media examples spanning the past eight years which show that video games and porn can be involved in tragic events. They also allude to a body of research that indicates this is indeed causing the demise of guys, that "(i)ncreasingly, researchers say yes, as young men become hooked on arousal, sacrificing their schoolwork and relationships in the pursuit of getting a tech-based buzz." Apart from their own book, the authors cite a few studies on how pleasure is experienced in the brain and two reports that suggest a "link" between video games, porn, and bad outcomes. Of course, in media parlance, "link" nearly always means "correlation," but a correlation cannot prove causation, meaning you can't infer that one thing causes the other. And the authors of the editorial certainly don't make any mention of the research that disagrees with them, or the positives of playing video games, such as encouraging cooperation, or the positives of masturbation (I don't know if our advertisers would like us to link to articles about that, but Google can tell you what the positives are), which, after all, is the point of nearly all porn consumption, no? And while we're talking about an editorial here, not peer-reviewed research, enormous claims - an entire generation ruined - require enormous proof. The authors' bombastic claim is left feeling thinly supported.

Admittedly, overuse of video games or porn (or food, or exercise, or alcohol, or floss, or the term "for real") is a problem. That's why it's called overuse. But when you begin by not defining what "overuse" is, and then go on to call it an "addiction" and claim that it's "ruining a generation"...that's what we call overreaching. Are Mario games really ruining a generation? They certainly present a lot of novelty and stimulation. Or is it just violent, repetitive games? What about repetitive games that require enormous amounts of time and patience? What about games that require social interaction and teamwork? Whatever happened to Rock and Roll, cable television, talking movies, the "rap music," Hellenists, Socrates, and all those other things that have been ruining generations since generations began?

Yes, there is absolutely a case to be made that some video games (and some porn, for that matter - but that's not what this site is about) aren't helping build a better generation. But one has to believe there are more constructive ways to make that case.

What do you guys think? Sound off in the comments section, please.

8 Comments

wohdin said:

Not only is that severely overreaching, but that kind of sensationalist titling is not doing anything good for this guy's credibility.

Mittens said:

Pair of Researchers Overstate Claims!
Sensational Journalism Sells More Copy!

thief-of-time said:

i bet they┬┤ll make a lot of money with this kind of bullshit and i also bet that a lot of overprotective mothers and teachers are going to believe every word of it. plus this probably will be new fuel for those idiots who claim that videogames are responsible for school-shootings and that masturbation is a sin bla bla bla...so sad ;(

Squiggy said:

I'm wondering if "overreaction" is actually the correct term for this, because the issue it touches on is actually important. It seems to me this article is naming the symptoms of a greater problem as the actual problem.

It's becoming somewhat more known that males in general are on the decline. Feminists have been calling it "progress" (articles such as "The End of Men"), while masculinists have been screaming end-of-days. The fact of the matter is, younger generations of males are falling behind and struggling, which is an issue that needs to be looked at, but likely will continue to be ignored. In general, issues regarding men are never addressed in the US.

Video games and pornography aren't the issue at hand, but rather an indication of a greater problem. On an individual basis, addiction is often a method of coping with or escaping problems a person is unable or unwilling to face in life. On a more social or cultural scale, I don't see how this isn't applicable to a gender. Having grown up on a reservation, I've watched an entire culture self-destructing due to similar issues. Alcoholism and drug abuse are rampant, and many of the people there (like indicated in the article) aren't willing to take the risks necessary to succeed in life. Very few of us do.

I believe the article is touching on a very important issue regarding men, however, it's off in that it's mistaking the "symptoms" for the "disease".

Scott said:

Of course it is important to remember that Zimbardo himself didn't decide to stop the prison experiments once they went haywire, his girlfriend was the one who was outraged, he was happy to watch the carnage unfold until she intervened.

Dexter said:

There are positive things that come out of porn. As a cub, stumbling across pictures of beary guys helped me to love my own body. My partner and I sometimes surf it together. It always brings up discussions of "do you like that?", "what do you like about it?", "would you like us to try it?" which is pretty healthy. I think we just need to become more comfortable and responsible with managing the erotic energy in our bodies. It's the original renewable resource!

sfbuck415 said:

I don't think this guy believes a word he says. He just talks a lot of trash because he knows there's a market for it. The Fox News crowd can't get enough of stuff like this.

Mercurywater said:

These guys probaley don't even belive this themselves because-how the hell could they? It's overeaching so far it's pitiful.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Mercurywater on Opinionation: FYI, Video Games And Porn Are "Ruining A Generation.": These guys probaley don't even belive this themselves because-how the hell could they? It's overeaching so far it's pitiful....

sfbuck415 on Opinionation: FYI, Video Games And Porn Are "Ruining A Generation.": I don't think this guy believes a word he says. He just talks a lot of trash because he knows...

Dexter on Opinionation: FYI, Video Games And Porn Are "Ruining A Generation.": There are positive things that come out of porn. As a cub, stumbling across pictures of beary guys helped me...

Scott on Opinionation: FYI, Video Games And Porn Are "Ruining A Generation.": Of course it is important to remember that Zimbardo himself didn't decide to stop the prison experiments once they went...

Squiggy on Opinionation: FYI, Video Games And Porn Are "Ruining A Generation.": I'm wondering if "overreaction" is actually the correct term for this, because the issue it touches on is actually important....

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