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

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.

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Mike Williams avatar

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor, USgamer

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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