Study Finds Gamer Teens Read - Just Not Traditional Texts

I heard of this report about a week ago on Next-Gen, but I just read it today after ran a story on it. The study was published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Cummings, H.M and Vandewater, E.A. (2007). Relation of adolescent video game play to time spent in other activities. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 161(7): 684-689.

The story below is from John Timmer of Arts Technica

The study obtained data by having about 1,500 representative adolescents in an existing survey population complete 24-hour time-use diaries, which provided detailed descriptions of their activities on randomly chosen days. The researchers found that 36 percent of adolescents played video games, and that there's a stark split along gender lines: 80 percent of those gamers were boys. Typical use was about an hour of gaming a day during the week and an hour and a half on weekends (females played less than males).

The authors then compared the gaming population to the non-gamers on a set of five activities: interactions with parents and with friends, reading, homework, and sports... Instead of turning kids into loners, gaming largely fell in line with general trends of social interactions.

Timmer's post goes on to describe many of the study's findings. Those studied only played for an average of one hour a day during the week. The study did find that time spent gaming took away from other activities, like homework (This really can not come as a surprise). What was surprising though, was the mere average of 8 minutes a weekday boys spent reading. Only eight minutes?

The study does not take into account the amount of reading that is done and required during the hour of gameplay. While those playing may not consider playing as reading and may choose gaming over traditional printed materials. I want to read the full article to get more detail out of the journals the kids kept. I suspect that if the time those playing video games spent reading in game text, reading and commenting about games online and reading through walkthroughs or strategy guides, the time spent reading would be much greater than 8 minutes.

So my question is what counts as reading? Or even quality reading? Those playing games and reading about them are applying the text. The kids commenting online about video games are incorporating both their experiences and what they read and synthesizing it. Isn't this what we want our students to do with any material they read?


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