Posted: 12/16/10

TAMIU Researcher Says Games Increase Youth Civic Involvement



Go ahead and play action-packed video games with your kids during the winter break. According to Texas A&M International University video game expert Dr. Christopher Ferguson, action-game-playing-youth whose parents are involved in game play and supervision are most civically involved.

His study was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

“Kids who play action, that is violent video games, show no less interest in civic behaviors and pro-social behaviors. Gamers were more likely to behave pro-socially online and were also slightly more likely to be engaged in civic behaviors, particularly when parents were involved in their game play,” Dr. Ferguson explained.

He added that kids whose parents were more involved were also more likely to play violent games, not less.

“That’s probably because parents became more comfortable with games once they were familiar with them,” he concluded.

In fairness, Ferguson said the positive effects were very small, but added that it’s important to point out that the study rules out the potential for negative effects on pro-social and civic behaviors.

Violent games very often have pro-social themes, such as saving a princess, or allow for lots of pro-social team-cooperative oriented play.

“Attempting to divide games into ‘violent’ and ‘pro-social’ is probably a mistake since many ‘violent’ games have pro-social themes,” he said.

Ferguson edited June’s American Psychological Association’s special issue on video games. He has also written numerous articles on the effects of video games that have debunked studies claiming video games are harmful.

For more information, contact Ferguson at 326.2636 or cferguson@tamiu.edu or visit offices in Dr. F. M. Canseco Hall, room 302C.

University offices are closed for holidays at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 23 and reopen on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011, at 8 a.m.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu