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TED book blames game and porn addiction for "the demise of guys"

TED book blames game and porn addiction for "the demise of guys"

Thu 24 May 2012 12:46am GMT / 8:46pm EDT / 5:46pm PDT
PoliticsGames

A book written by the creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment puts games alongside porn

A new TED book written by Dr. Philip Zimbardo, creator of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, and his personal assistant Nikita Duncan blames the addiction to video games and pornography for the "demise" of young men in North America.

In "The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It," the pair say video games and porn lead to "arousal addiction", where the addict craves new experiences, as opposed to traditional addiction, where a user looks for the same experience repeatedly.

They say arousal addiction is creating a generation of young males that are risk-averse and shy away from dealing with relationships, school, or work. Many of the arguments in the book build on a previous TED 2011 talk by Dr. Zimbardo.

According to a report by CNN, Dr. Zimbardo and Duncan cite some of gaming's darkest stories to provide their point. This includes the 2005 death of Seungseob Lee, who died playing Starcraft for 50 hours, and Norwegian killing spree of Anders Behring Breivik, who said that he played Call of Duty and World of Warcraft at his trial.

The CNN report mentions psychological research saying that violent video games increase aggression in children and adults. It also mentions a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, which concludes that porn addiction can "become a substitute for healthy face-to-face interactions, social or sexual." The authors of the TED book blame the "misuse of technology" for the problem.

"Technology is not the issue. Rather, it's the misuse of technology. There's a general overuse of video games and porn - especially in social isolation - which is not balanced out by other activities like exercise, face-to face socialization with peers, or individual time with any kind of male mentor," said Duncan in a TED interview.

"Guys' brains are being forever altered with prescription drugs, illegal drugs that have ever-increasing potency, and overstimulation from enticing images and games. All of this make them less motivated to deal with a quickly evolving reality. Young men are getting left behind socially, sexually, and financially," added Dr. Zimbardo in the same interview.

Ultimately, Dr. Zimbardo and Duncan conclude that young men raised on game and porn addiction become unable to deal with traditional schooling and romantic relationships.

10 Comments

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
"young males that are risk-averse and shy away from dealing with relationships, school, or work"

Go on the gaming forums and you find a lot of these. Many still living with their parents into their 30s. And "anonymous" sociopathic behaviour is the norm.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Tony Johns

520 12 0.0
so two guys made a book to tell everyone that they are better than all the other guys out there and they blame 'Arousal Addiction' of games and sexy stuff for the demise of guys...

and here I thought that Gambling and Drugs were more dangerous.

In my view, these two guys are nothing but a bunch of jokers. I am a gamer and I have meet many girl gamers and otaku girls, but to those two guys, they don't think that the girls I like exist.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Thomas Milne
Studying Computer Science with Games Tech

3 2 0.7
@Tony Nikita Duncan is a lady, not a guy! Check the picture again ;)

I don't think they're a million miles off something true here, but they are definitely wrong to single out guys, games and porn (well, wrong in the formation of their argument, but right in that it will generate more buzz around the book).

The main culprit is the internet - We now have access to a seemingly infinite amount of distractions of all colours; games, books, movies, "news" - more than enough to replace the real world with one which we find more appealing.

It's also easier to simply survive in the world thanks to things like the welfare state, less global conflict, etc etc. This all supports the ability to be lazy, turn your back to the real world and drop out of society altogether. Which is probably a bad thing. Probably.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Francisco Javier
QA Manager

26 14 0.5
I agree with you Thomas. I think that we should take care of the isolation of the players bringing apps and games that helps people to meet each other and have something to share. I think the idea behind the Streetpass for example is a good one, however it lacks the part of asking players to meet other players.

I think social networks and forums altogether with the different gaming experiences could be great tools to make people meet and have social interaction. We should work on this.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Francisco Javier on 24th May 2012 10:00am

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,479 1,251 0.8
I wonder aloud if the survey is an attempt at redressing the imbalance in masculinity that feminism is blamed for. The fact that the whole survey revolves around guys and not people of both genders makes me think it's skewed. Yes, women play games. Yes, women enjoy porn. Yes, women are precribed drugs. Tell me again why the survey is directed solely at men, and not women too?

Although, it's a confused situation. For example
survey that drew responses from more than 20,000 men
The most popular answers from our 20,000-person survey was that widespread hardcore Internet porn is wreaking havoc on relationships. Women said it’s made guys emotionally unavailable
So which is it? 20,000 people, or 20,000 men?
The book is based on a popular TED Talk which Zimbardo did in 2011, and includes extensive research as well as a TED-exclusive survey
TED exclusive huh? Hmmmm. Not exactly a broad range of people surveyed.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 24th May 2012 12:13pm

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
I blame the internet and the digital age. We are shifting from the industrial age, to the digital age. So while many things will be aquired, others will be lost and what will be lost is the way humans share, socialize with one another on a face to face and fisical plain. It will do away with how we learn, buy stuff, play games and sex. We no longer need to go to a cinema or music store to buy music, everything can be downlaoded or expirienced in a certain way from a "terminal"(any computer/hardware connected to the internet).

I can see the point behind what this guy said, I just dont think the manner which he made the study was good. He singled out video games and porn and thats not good. I think the fact that most retail goods can be purchased or downloaded online takes away from the way humans once socialized in the real world. Even the way people communicate has changed.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,479 1,251 0.8
@ Rick

"He singled out video games and porn and thats not good"

Yeah, I don't know what to think of this. Because, on the one hand, there's been lots of surveys which say what he's saying (videogames/porn/violent films desensitize), and lots of surveys which say the opposite. He might well have good points - for example, he mentions how fatherless boys do less well at school, which is entirely true - but I think they've been drowned out by the anti-porn/videogame aspect of the responses.

More generally, I think it's like anything - there needs to be a balance. Living in the digital age means you can converse with people all over the world, but if that's at the cost of going out on the town with your university mates, then there's something slightly wrong with your priorities. Excessive porn is bad, yes, but then excessive chocolate is bad. Tell us something we don't know. :)

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,007 1,395 1.4
If you actually look at the peer reviewed meta-studies of the issue of video games causing violence and aggression, two out of three have found that no, they do not affect it on any meaningful level and the third has been largely discredited for poor methodology. Meta-studies are worth a lot more than the crap CNN reports because unlike CNN they actually analyze methodology and conclusions of ALL studies on the subject, with no goal of parental scare tactics. Citing a CNN report for your book is like citing Wikipedia for your school report. It shows an extreme lack of actual research. Recent studies have shown that watching and following professional sports actually have a much larger affect on violent and aggressive thoughts than any violent games or movies.

As for porn affecting relationships, I haven't done any research on this. I know that the rise of porn has been identified through many many studies as a significant factor in the massive reduction of sex crimes of all types (particularly rape and child molestation). I would argue that's a pretty huge benefit to society. Recent studies suggest that almost as many women view porn as men, so I'm not sure why he's singling out men here.

As for the drugs, women take FAR more mood altering drugs on average than men. ADHD drugs, anti-anxiety drugs, and anti-depressants are all much more common among the fairer sex. Again, not sure why he's singling out men.

There are definitely problems with both men and women failing to leave childhood and becoming more dependent on their parents and society to support them than they were in the past, but this is a terrible book, and it really saddens me that TED would sink to publishing it. It's like a school report, written with anecdotal evidence and clearly no attempt to dig deeper into actual peer reviewed studies. Clearly he went into this book with a goal: He had things he wanted to criticize and he would damn sure find a way to do it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 24th May 2012 2:05pm

Posted:2 years ago

#8

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 411 0.6
@Morville.

Basically it's dreck research. If there's a huge wave of socially unfit youths around today that sit about and do nothing and cannot integrate successfully with society it's more likely to be the fault of poverty and the economy than videogames and drugs (extensive and over-use of which will increase in economically hard times). Besides which, we'd be able to see the results of such a widespread epidemic ourselves. Are we? Are you? I haven't been seeing such things. Lecturers haven't been seeing such things (I'll have to ask my school teacher friends).

Nothing to see here, people. It's just sensationalism at the bottom of the barrel.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
In fact i think video games and "sexy stuff" are a way to prevent violent behavior in real life, because they provide an outlet for repressed feelings. (was repressed the right word?)

I believe the stuff your told in church and see on the news is more destructive to peoples behavior than video games and porn.

And I belive at the end of the day, people are owner of their actions. If a person wants to rape a girl or beat up someone, its probably because they were an asshole from the getgo.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 24th May 2012 7:16pm

Posted:2 years ago

#10

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