Aug 28 2009

A Social Event: Harnessing Gaming Habits

Survey says students enjoy educational computer games but video game addiction is a looming possibility.

A growing number of college admissions offices now use social media to reach out to high school students, according to a recent study by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. In a survey of all U.S. four-year accredited institutions, researchers found that:

  • 85% used at least one form of social media for recruiting in 2008, up from 61% in 2007;
  • 61% used social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook in 2008, up from 29% a year earlier;
  • 48% used video blogging in 2008, compared with 19% in 2007.

Source: “Social Media and College Admissions” (January 2009), by Nora Ganim Barnes and Eric Mattson, Center for Marketing Research, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Games in the Classroom

More than half (51 percent) of 281,000 students who responded to a recent survey by Project Tomorrow said that educational computer games would improve their learning by making it easier for them to understand difficult concepts. An equal percentage of nearly 30,000 teachers surveyed agreed, saying they are interested in integrating gaming into daily classroom activities.

Source: Speak Up 2008 Report (April 2009), Project Tomorrow

One Leads to Another...and Another

Video games may be useful as learning tools, but the risk of addiction among young gamers is very real, according to Iowa State University psychology professor Douglas Gentile. Of 1,178 youths ages 8 to 18 who were surveyed about their gaming habits, 8.5 percent showed clear signs of addiction.

Gentile measured the responses of the video-game players against standard criteria used to identify addictive gambling. Among his findings:

  • Addicted gamers spent an average of 24 hours a week playing video games, more than twice the time spent by nonaddicted gamers.
  • Pathological gamers were twice as likely to have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder than others in the survey.

Source: “Pathological Video Game Use Among Youth 8 to 19: A National Study,” by Douglas Gentile, Psychological Science (May 2009)