This is a response to a Channel 4 program, Extreme Parenting, in which a segment was given over to a study of Violent games.
A group of boys were randomly divided in two, and asked to play either a football game or a violent game. Their heart rates were monitored during this. They were then asked to view violent news footage, and again their hearts were monitored. Lastly, selected children were given an incident to intervene using politeness (pens were ‘accidentally’ dropped off a table). This being TV, violent games were clearly more ‘dangerous’ than non-violent games.
I felt there were several flaws in the set-up and outcome of this TV experiment, and would like to point out my concerns.
Why were only boys chosen for this test? Whilst many boys do enjoy computer games, so do many girls. It would have been beneficial to see a comparison with heart rates to the boys.
There was no ‘blind’ control group. The control group offered was one playing a football game, rather than not using computers at all. If you wanted to test the effects of water on a growing plant, would you pour water into the soil of one plant and custard in the other? No.
In the part of the expereiment that ‘proved’ those children who played a violent games were less helpful, the researcher carrying out the test knew which child was coming in (violent game or football game). This is known as having a potential researcher bias. Even if he was convinced of remaining impartial, he may well have given subconcious signals to each child, tipping the balance of fairness toward those playing a football game.
TV Experiment Results
A voiceover result is not an expereimental result. Why were we only shown some of the graphs – TV. Why were only six of the 40 boys shown to carry out the pe pick-up test – TV. Why have the full results of the experiment not been made public – er, it doesn’t fit the narrative.
Unfortunately, this will result in lots of children having voilent games, perhaps even many of their games, taken away from them. While I have an opinion on violent games, I do question the ethics of broadcasting this kind of expeeiment in a slot that has been classified as Education.