Does gaming, some wonder, turn teens into psychopaths? Or are all teens, perhaps, just a little bit, you know, someplace else?
During my regular reading of the journal Pediatrics, I happened to come across a study that sought to begin to answer some of these torrid questions.
Researchers at Yale decided that it was about time someone tried to establish concrete data around the notion that gaming affects (or doesn't) the growing mind in a stunting kind of way.
So they anonymously surveyed more than 4,000 teens and asked them about their gaming habits and other aspects of their lives. Of those surveyed, 51.2 percent reported gaming.
Their conclusions have a rather bracing quality. It seems that in boys, gaming is "largely normative" and "not associated with many health factors," according to the results. Indeed, boys who game even appear to smoke less than those who eschew the Xbox in favor of, say, street corners and obscure remixes of Bowie.
In girls, however, the researchers found some more disturbing links.
It seems that gaming was linked not only to some level of fisticuffs among some girls, but also to carrying a weapon to school. I was not aware that girls needed to carry a weapon to school.
But Rani Desai, associate professor of psychiatry and epidemiology and public health at Yale, was quoted on Futurity.org as saying: "The gender differences observed between gamers and non-gamers suggest that girls may be gaming for different reasons than boys."
The suggestion is not (at least not yet) that gaming causes girls to punch people and take up arms. But there seems to be something in those girls who game (about 29 percent of girls reported gaming) that may imply a slightly more aggressive--or, indeed, perhaps, defensive--streak than in the general population.
One wonders just how many girls who might be fans of Kobe Bryant might find his new, gun-toting ad for "Call of Duty: Black Ops" an uplifting experience.