Social relationships of gamers and their parents
Su Li Chaia, Vivian Hsueh-Hua Chenb, Angeline Khooa* 1
aNational Institute of Education, 1Nanyang Walk, Singapore 637616, Singapore
bNanyang Technological University, 50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798, Singapore
The purpose of this study is to understand how playing digital games affect children and adolescents‟ relationships with their parents. Ninety primary and secondary school students from 6 schools were randomly invited to participate in a one-on-one qualitative semi-structured interview. Mixed responses were received from the students, with regard to whether gaming displaced time with their family and whether it caused conflicts with parents. On a positive note, the majority of them felt that playing games did not displace time with parents or lead to conflicts with parents. This paper presents a detailed account of their perception and reasons on the issue.
The massive popularity of digital games and significant amount of time which children and adolescents have
spent playing them has been well documented in the literature. Recent studies have noted that the amount of time which children and adolescents spent on digital gaming is increasing. According to a report done by NDP Group (2007), more than one-thirds of children from the age of 2 years to 17 years in the United States are playing more video games compared to a year ago. 50% of these children spent on average, 5 hours or less per week, while the other 50% of these children spent about 6 to 16 hours per week on playing video games. In Singapore, a recent study reported that most children and adolescents in Singapore between the ages of 10 to 16 years play games (Choo et al, 2010). On average, a child spent about 20 hours per week on games. Boys reported 22 hours per week while girls reported 18 hours per week. Obviously, gaming has become a social activity and constitutes a major part of their social experience (Choo, et al, 2010). However, up to date, there is limited local research on the possible impacts of gaming on children and adolescents‟ social lives. Further, in view of the increasing amount of game play, research has argued that excessive game play could lead to detrimental consequences. One of which consequences is that gaming replaces social activities that are important to maintain one‟s social connectivity withsignificant others such as family and friends.
An early Internet study by Nie and Hillygus (2002) reported that individuals who frequently use the Internet tend to interact less with other individuals even with just 2-5 hours of Internet time per week. For individuals who used more than 10 hours of Internet per week, the interaction time reduced even more significantly. According to the study by Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society (SIQSS), it was reported that 31% of US population who used Internet frequently spent 70 minutes lesser interacting with family, 25 minutes lesser sleeping and 30 minutes lesser watching television, all on a daily basis compared to those who did not use Internet frequently. Not surprisingly, when more time is allocated to the Internet, time spent socializing with family, friends and other people, and performing other social activities decreased. A similar phenomenon was observed in digital games play. Studies reported that gaming not only displaced time spent with other people and on other activities (Nie & Erbring, 2002), it has also been associated with poorer relationships and increased conflicts with family and friends (Padilla- Walker et al, 2009).
In a later study conducted by Cumming et al (2007), they specifically examined this notion that playing video
games displace the time adolescents spent in other daily activities. The study involved 1941 children aged 10 to 19 years. Data, in the form of type, number, duration, location and identity of other persons (if the activity was carried out with another person) were collected via twenty-four-hour time-use diaries on a randomly chosen weekday and a weekend. Time-use diaries were used to determine adolescents‟ time spent playing video games, with parents and friends, reading and doing homework, and in sports and leisure activities. Results revealed that gamers spent 30% and 34% lesser time on reading and doing homework respectively when comparing to non-gamers. Furthermore,the amount of time gamers spent on playing video games alone was found to be negatively correlated with time spent on other activities with their parents and friends. Hence, the finding further demonstrated that spending more time on playing digital games could possibly displace time individuals spent on interacting with other people and on doing other activities. Indeed, college students surveyed in Jones et al (2003) study also expressed similar sentiments that playing computer, video, online games took “some” or “a lot” of time away from other leisure activities. Elsewhere, like Kolo and Baur‟s (2000) study, gamers of Ultima Online also complained about the lack
of time to do other activities except for playing the game.
A number of studies have assessed the length of game play in relation to gamers‟ social relationships with family, friends and/or other individuals and found negative consequences. For instance, Padilla-Walker et al (2009) study found that video game use was related to lower relational quality with parents and friends, and usage might be a risk factor in affecting adult social development. Cole and Griffiths (2007) explored the occurrence of social interactions of 912 self-selected MMORPGs players in and outside of game. The sample age ranged from 11 to 63 years. They found that the number of hours per week spent on playing MMORPG game has a negative effect on relationships; the correlation is weak but significant, particularly with friends or family members who did not play the same game. For some players, they reported experiencing more conflicts with partners, friends or relative whom felt that they were being neglected due to their game playing (Woods et al, 2007).
In some studies, it has been reported that gamers experienced conflicts with the people around him or her in
regarding to their game play. As mentioned above, for some players, conflicts with their partners, friends or family members occurred when the latter felt neglected due to the gamers‟ devotion to their games (Woods et al, 2007). Only a few studies which involving parents have examined the frequency of conflicts with their children (for example Skoien & Berthelsen, 1996) and even fewer have explored the issues in depth. In Skoien and Berthelsen‟s (1996) study, about 10% of parent participants reported that they had frequently experienced conflicts with their child because of game issues with regard to such issues as buying games and amount of time to play. 54% reported occasional conflicts, and 37% reported that they had not experience any conflicts with their child because of digital gaming. Parents and children often hold different views and opinions about digital games, such as the appropriateness of game content, gaming habits and other real life priorities, leading to different benchmarks about playing digital games and amount of parental mediation (Nikken & Jansz, 2006). For instance, Aarsand (2007) described a case study in which a grandmother and her grandchild had different understanding on how much time was required to finish a game. The grandmother gave a particular amount of gaming time to her grandson, how he played the game was of little interest to her. He had to stop playing when his time was up. In contrast, the grandson determined the amount of time he required based on “task-bound reasoning” (p. 250), as he wanted to complete the task before stopping the game. Moreover, parents who have a negative view about the effect of games tend to restrict their children‟s gaming time more, especially if they thought that their child is spending too much time on playing games instead of participating in other more socially beneficial activities (Skoien & Berthelsen, 1996). Hence, it is proposed that conflicts between parent and child could arise due to differences in perception and expectations about game play.
1.3.Purpose of study
Existing studies are mostly quantitative in nature. How children gamers view this issue is understudied.
Considering that family plays a major role in children and adolescents‟ lives, it is important to investigate how gaming influences the family relationships between children and their parents and vice versa. This study aims at gaining deeper understanding of how the children gamers understand the impact of gaming in their own daily lives as well as how their family relationship influence their game play habits.
In view of the concerns raised, two research questions were proposed:
RQ1: How does playing games influence gamers‟ involvement in family activities?
RQ2: How does playing games influence the frequency and nature of family conflict between parents and
This interview study is part of a larger national study to investigate the effects of playing digital games on the
children and adolescents in Singapore. Invitations were randomly sent out to primary and secondary students who earlier participated in a quantitative study on digital gaming. A total of 90 students agreed to take part, with parental consent. There were 67 primary students (ages ranging from 11 to 12 years) and 23 secondary students (ages ranging from 13 to 15 years) from 6 schools. One-on-one semi-structured interviews were conducted to understand how playing games influence their interactions and relationships with family members. The duration of each interview lasted about 1 to 1.5 hours. Interviews were audio-recorded with consent from the participants, and subsequently transcribed. The transcripts were then coded for categories or themes by 2 coders, which the answers to the research questions were gleaned.
With regard to whether playing games displaced time with their parents, mixed responses were received from both primary and secondary students. About half of the students felt that gaming did not affect their time with parents while the rest were split between agreeing and undecided.A minority of the students felt that playing games affected their time with their family. When asked to explain their reasons, one of common reasons given was that they spent much of their time gaming. Consistent with the time displacement hypothesis, when more time is spent playing on one activities, this naturally lead to lesser time and subsequently lesser interactions with parents. As one of the students mentioned, “I will spend more time with my games than with my parents, talk less with them and relationship with them is lesser”. These students often gave higher priority to gaming when they had to choose between playing games and participating in shared activity with family, especially if they were not interested in the activity that their parents had decided for them, for example, shopping. As one student commented, “When they are going for shopping, I too lazy to go out always, then I always stay at home alone, always, so I play the game”. Another reason given was that they were so engrossed in the game that interactions with family members, especially parents were reduced or were only half-hearted as they had to consistently focus their attention to concentrate on the games. Hence, the interviews revealed that for some students, their relationships with parents could be neglected when they spent more time and attention gaming.
However, the majority of the students reported that gaming did not affect their time with family, even though they may spend many hours gaming. Three reasons were commonly cited, low amount of game play, gaming and family time did not clash, and playing of games with parents. For the group of students who reported that they spent very limited time on playing games, it is usually due to either a low interest in playing video/computer games or they have strict parental restriction on the amount of time they could play games. For the first group, they were keener on other activities, such as playing sports or reading. For the latter group, their parents, particularly mothers, controlled the amount of time or decide when they could play games. As one mentioned, “Not really because our mother only gives us limited time to play”. Permission to play games was usually accompanied with the fulfilment of certain requirements, for instance, after homework was completed or after exams, etc. When the parents have control over children‟s time, gaming time is less likely to clash with family time since it was their „under control‟. Another group of students felt that gaming did not take away time from their family as their gaming and family time did not clash. As one student explained, “Not really ah (sic) because my parents usually come home late”.
Another student commented that “Because the time I choose to play games my family is busy doing work or something else”. It is observed that they usually game when their parents were at work, or when their parents were busy with other tasks at home and thus had no time to do activities together with them. Therefore, it could be inferred that playing games provided some form of companionship for these children and also functioned as a medium to pass time and relieve boredom. Two secondary students stated that they usually made prior arrangements with their family in regards to their gaming time and family time, so that they would enjoy their gaming without interruption and at the same time, enjoy time together with their family. For a small group of students, their family activities involved playing games with their parents. Since they were doing the same activity together, they did not feel that playing games displaced any time with their parents.
Although the majority of students did not report conflicts, a handful of them reported that they have often experienced unhappiness with their parents over playing of games, especially when their play was interrupted, affecting their game progress, for example, leveling halted. One student complained, “Sometimes I will feel irritated because it‟s like a quite a long time never play computer game. Then I only played for about one hour. Then my mother asks me to stop I feel abit irritated”. In the case of another student, “I was starting to play for like about 5 minutes then my mother ask me to stop. Then I only played for a bit, so I was a bit angry. So I told my mother to let me play for a while more then she didn‟t allow, then I got angry”. It is observed that for these students, conflicts with parents commonly occurred when parents interrupted their game play or confronted them about their “gaming time and frequency”. Another student complained, “Ya, they think I spend too long on the computer game then she‟ll (mother) start shouting. They get like naggy each time, like angrier”. Sometime conflicts occurred when the student disregarded or breached rules which parents have set regarding the playing of video/computer games. It seemed that these parents do not understand video/computer games and tend to view it negatively. Gaming is sometimes portrayed in the media in a negative light as affecting, social performance. Parents tend to react negatively to their use, and attempt to enforce strict control or access without communicating their concerns to their children. Conflicts occurred as a result, especially for adolescents who value autonomy. On the other hand, it was observed that students who did not experience conflicts with parents, placed higher priorities to other activities, such as studying and thus did not spend much time on gaming, “My dad knows that I can control the time that I play la, so for me, the most maybe one hour, nowadays la, then I‟ll stop already”. Some students explained, they have an agreement with their parents about the tasks they were expected to complete, in return for an amount of time to play games. One reported, , “My family rule is if I want to play game, I need to finish some of my homework before I can play half an hour to one hour computer games.” Most of these students understood the reasons for the rules and abided by them. One student said, “so they want me to have balance. So like I won‟t be playing too much, can study too”. Another reported, “Because if you play too much games, your eye sight will worsen and you need to wear spectacles.” In other words, these students have internalized the reasons provided by parents and therefore are more willing and agreeable to abide by rules which they have set.
Results of the interviews with the students painted an interesting picture of the role of gaming within the family context. Overall, there is also little evidence to suggest that gaming has detrimental effects on parent-child relationships, although a number of interviews did indicate that playing games could lead to potential problems and conflicts for some parents and their children. There is a need for parents to better understand the games that their children are playing. They also need to enforce developmentally appropriate rules when controlling their children‟s gaming habits. At the same time, it is also important to have enjoyable activities together as a whole family.
The authors would like to thank the Ministry of Education, Singapore and the Media Development Authority for jointly funding the research project (Project #EP1/06AK).
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Resumen del articulo científico
“Social relationships of gamers and their parents”
El propósito de este estudio es entender como el uso de videojuegos afecta las relaciones de los niños y adolescentes con sus padres. Se realizó una encuesta a noventa estudiantes de primaria y secundaria de 6 escuelas sobre si el uso de videojuegos disminuía el tiempo para compartir con su familia o si estos dan lugar a conflictos con sus padres. La mayoría de ellos consideró que los videojuegos no disminuyen el tiempo con su familia ni dan lugar a conflictos con los padres..
La gran cantidad de personas que usan los videojuegos y la cantidad significativa de tiempo que los niños y adolescentes dedican a estos ha sido razón de diferentes estudios. Según diferentes estudios, se ha observado que la cantidad de tiempo que los niños y adolescentes dedican a los videojuegos está aumentando.
Obviamente, los videojuegos juego se han convertido en una actividad social y constituyen una parte importante de su experiencia social. Las investigaciones han argumentado que el uso excesivo de videojuegos puede llevar a consecuencias perjudiciales. Una de las consecuencias es que los videojuegos sustituyen a las actividades sociales que son importantes para mantener una conectividad social con otras personas, como la familia y los amigos.
1.1. Tiempo invertido en los videojuegos
Los videojuegos no sólo reducen el tiempo dedicado a otras personas y a otras actividades, también ocasionan malas relaciones y conflictos con familiares y amigos.
En un estudio se examinó específicamente la noción de que los videojuegos que juegan los adolescentes disminuyen el tiempo dedicado a otras actividades diarias. Los resultados revelaron que los jugadores pasaron del 30% y un 34% menos tiempo en leer y hacer la tarea, respectivamente, al compararlos con los no jugadores.
Diversos estudios han evaluado el tiempo dedicado a un videojuego en relación con el tiempo dedicado de los jugadores a relaciones sociales con familiares y amigos, se encuentran consecuencias negativas. Por ejemplo, el uso de los videojuegos se relacionó con una menor calidad relacional con los padres y amigos, y su uso puede ser un factor de riesgo que afecta al desarrollo social de los adultos. También se encontró que el número de horas semanales dedicadas a un videojuego específico tiene un efecto negativo en las relaciones, la correlación es débil, en especial con amigos o familiares que no jugaron el mismo juego. Para algunos jugadores, que reportaron haber experimentado más conflictos con los socios y amigos, sentían que estaban siendo abandonados debido al uso del su videojuego.
1.2 Los conflictos entre padres e hijos
Sólo unos pocos estudios han examinado la frecuencia de conflictos entre padres e hijos. Alrededor del 10% de los padres participantes en el estudio informaron que habían experimentado con frecuencia en conflictos con su hijo debido a problemas de juego con respecto a cuestiones tales como la compra de juegos y la cantidad de tiempo para jugar. 54% reportó conflictos ocasionales, y el 37% informó que no tenía experiencia alguna en conflicto con su hijo a causa de los videojuegos.
Los padres y los niños a menudo tienen puntos de vista y opiniones diferentes acerca de los videojuegos, tales como la adecuación del contenido del juego, hábitos de juego y otras prioridades de la vida real, lo que lleva a diferentes puntos de referencia sobre los videojuegos y la cantidad de la mediación parental.
Por otra parte, los padres que tienen una visión negativa sobre el efecto de los juegos tienden a restringir a sus hijos el tiempo de juego, sobre todo si se piensa que su hijo pasa demasiado tiempo en jugar en vez de participar en otras actividades socialmente más beneficiosas Por lo tanto, se propone que los conflictos entre padres e hijos podrían surgir debido a las diferencias en la percepción y expectativas sobre el juego.
1.3 Propósito de la investigación
La mayoría de los estudios relacionados con este tema son cuestionados desde una perspectiva cuantitativa, mientras que la opinión de los jugadores jóvenes no ha sido estudiada.
La familia hace parte importante de la vida de los niños. Por esto con este estudio buscaron encontrar si los niños veían cómo el uso de los videojuegos afectaba su relación con sus padres, y a la misma vez el cómo mantener una buena relación con sus padres cambiaba sus hábitos de juego.
1.4 Preguntas de la investigación
Debido a las diferentes cuestiones a tratar plantearon dos preguntas:
· ¿Cómo puede el uso de videojuegos afectar la relación de los jugadores con sus familias?
· ¿Cómo el uso de videojuegos logra afectar la frecuencia y la naturaleza de las discusiones familiares entre padres e hijos?
Este estudio hace parte de una investigación mucho más amplia que se desarrolla de manera nacional, la cual cuestiona el uso de juegos por parte de niños y jóvenes en Singapur.
Las invitaciones para participar en las entrevistas fueron mandadas al azar a niños que antes habían participado en un estudio cuantitativo acerca de juegos digitales. En total participaron 90 estudiantes quienes hacían parte de 6 escuelas diferentes. 67 hacían parte de educación primaria (edades entre los 11 y los 12 años), y los 23 restantes eran de secundaria (edades entre los 13 y los 15 años).
Las entrevistas fueron llevadas a cabo entre una persona del equipo y el niño. Cada entrevista duró entre una hora y una hora y media. Cada entrevista fue audio-grabada con el consentimiento por parte del niño y después fue transcrita. Las entrevistas fueron dividas en dos categorías según el tipo de respuestas. En el artículo no se menciona cómo fueron divididas.
3.1 Tiempo invertido en el uso de videojuegos
Acerca de si los videojuegos apartan a los niños de sus padres varias respuestas fueron encontradas: mitad de los estudiantes respondieron que no sentían que los videojuegos los apartaran de sus padres, mientras que el resto respondió que si veían distanciación entre ellos y los padres causado por el uso de los videojuegos.
Una minoría dijo que sentían que los juegos afectaban su relación con sus padres, debido a que pasaban la mayor parte de su tiempo jugando. Esto afirmo una de las hipótesis que se tenían: el uso de videojuegos hace que los niños pasan menos tiempo con sus padres, pues necesitan darle un gran nivel de atención a los videojuegos. Se encontró con que unos jóvenes le daban mayor prioridad a jugar los videojuegos que a pasar tiempo de calidad con sus padres.
Una mayoría reportó que juagar los videojuegos no afectaba su relación con sus padres. Se mencionaron tres diferentes razones: no juegan casi, juegan con sus padres o el tiempo que pasan jugando videojuegos no compromete el tiempo familiar, ya sea porque los padres no están o se encuentran ocupados.
Los niños que pasaban menos horas jugando era porque no tenían interés en jugar o porque sus padres se lo tenían prohibido o les controlaban las horas de juego.
3.2 Conflicto padres-hijos
La mayoría de los niños no reportaron ningún tipo de conflictos, pero si comentaron que los incomodaba el hecho que sus padres los interrumpieran mientras juegan o que les pidieran que dejaran de jugar.
Pasa que muchos padres opinan que jugar vídeo juegos es nocivo para los jóvenes, pues en la mayoría de veces aunque no sepan por experiencia propia, los medios de comunicación y la sociedad lo muestran como algo malo.
Se encontró que los estudiantes que no habían tenido ningún tipo de conflictos con sus padres, le daban mayor importancia a otro tipo de actividades, como por ejemplo al estudio. Unos niños tenían diferentes tipos de acuerdos con sus padres, como por ejemplo terminar primero sus tareas antes de poder jugar cierto tiempo. Las personas encargadas del estudio comentaron que estos niños lograron interiorizar las razones dadas por sus padres y por esto aceptar las reglas que sus padres pusieron.
El resultado de las entrevistas mostró una variante muy interesante acerca del rol que tienen los vídeojuegos en el contexto familiar. Primero que todo toca resaltar que hay muy poca evidencia que sugiera que el uso de juegos afecte las relaciones entre padres e hijos, aunque con las entrevistas su puede indicar que jugar estos juegos pueden llevar a problemas y conflictos. Además se sugiere que los padres busquen informarse más sobre los vídeojuegos que juegan sus hijos para que tengan un mayor conocimiento acerca de estos para que luego creen reglas para controlar los hábitos de juego que tienen sus hijos. También se sugiere que se encuentren diferentes tipos de actividades para que tanto padres e hijos desarrollen.