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4706RE: [evol-psych] Video gaming as an adaptation

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  • Rennie, Steve [HES]
    Jun 2, 2000
      Sorry Roger, but I think we are still talking past each other. I accept that children have not received a very large proportion of their socialisation by looking at a machine in prior evolution, but I do not believe that is true today either. They may adopt some dressing up of behaviours in the form of things they have seen or heard via machine based media, but their core behaviours are drawn from direct relationships with others. In my experience, children are far more aware of the distinction between direct experiences and those observed through TV, video, computer game or film, than are adults. Even printed media for adolescents are more careful to distinguish between the actors in soaps and the characters they play than adult comics like the Sun, Star or Mirror.

      In the main I see children in play settings outside of the home. I accept that this does not offer a broad representation of children's use of video/computer games, but it does offer a good overview of their behaviours in the company of their peers. In those settings, children tend to play these games in social groups, not at all surpising since, as you say, homo sapiens is a social species. Their behaviours, reflecting emotional responses, appear to be far more influenced by the group than by the screen. The socialisation process is therefore based on the group, rather than on the screen material, much as it would appear to have been throughout our recent period of evolution.

      I remain unconvinced that watching television is any more harmful or influential, than gazing out at the world from a window, or peering round from the shelter of your mother's arms at the dangerous world around you. I am equally unconvinced that video/computer games are a major qualitative change from books, comics or even from stories told round a campfire. Context still appears to be the major factor, not content.

      Stephen Rennie, Leeds Metropolitan University
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