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Video Games Are THE Social Scene

It's nearly a sure bet that if you have teenagers, they're playing video games.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 97 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 play video games. And for today's teens, games are a "major component of their overall social experience," the Pew report said. About three-quarters of teen gamers play with others at least some of the time. And while most teens have encountered mean, aggressive or hateful behavior while playing games, they also speak up and ask the aggressors to stop the negative behaviors. Meanwhile, parental oversight of game-playing teens varies. Moms and dads of boys and younger children are most likely to monitor game play.

Gaming also seems to relate to teens' interest in civic activities. Although playing games doesn't equate to being more civic-minded, teens who take an active role in social interaction related to games -- commenting on Web sites or contributing to discussion boards, for instance -- tend to also be more engaged civically and politically, the study's authors concluded.

"There is little evidence to support the concern that playing video games promotes behaviors or attitudes that undermine civic commitments and behaviors," the report's authors said.

Teens' favorite titles span multiple genres of video games. Racing games topped the list in popularity, followed by puzzle, sports, action and adventure games. Most popular by title are Guitar Hero, Halo 3, Madden NFL, Solitaire and Dance, Dance Revolution. And console boxes such as Xbox, PlayStation and the Wii topped gaming mechanisms. Not far behind were games on the computer. More than half played on portable gaming devices and a little less than half play games on cellphones or handheld organizers.

None of the popular titles have made it into our house yet. We're currently stuck in Pajama Sam, Freddy Fish and I Spy mode and looking forward to adding Carmen Sandiego to the mix.

What are some of your kids' -- and your -- favorite video games? Do they play with you or just their friends?

Elsewhere today: D.C. Schools Seek to Bring Order to Recess ... Live Discussion, Noon: Black Family Seeks Nanny

By Stacey Garfinkle |  September 17, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Entertainment
Previous: Pay Up; He Got an 'A' | Next: Sex Ed: How Early? How Detailed?

Comments


My son has been playing Age of Mythology for several years. It's the reason he aced his Virginia SOL test in the 3rd grade in social studies and has loved the subject of history ever since.

My homemaker daughter, like her sister before her, liked playing Syms. As soon as the girls turned into teenagers, the video game playing time on computers got replaced by the human interaction tools like instant messaging, facebook, and text messaging via cell.

And they hound me for blogging too much...

Posted by: Whacky Weasel | September 17, 2008 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Whacky

#1 OP Rule

No bragging about unremarkable kids.

Posted by: Hall Monitor | September 17, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Gotcha hall monitor, 3 demerits for Whacky. I still want to plug Age of Mythology for young kids. Though addictive in nature, that particular computer game has the most positive side effects of all games my kids have ever played.

Posted by: Whacky Weasel | September 17, 2008 7:47 AM | Report abuse

My daughter is not at all interested in video games. She mostly plays with Little people, magnetic dolls, american girl dolls, kitchen and housekeeping stuff, and Madeline toys.

My husband loves video games but does not have a lot of time to play. He owns a PS2 and loves it.

Posted by: foamgnome | September 17, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

i admit it. i'm a video game junkie...and the first step is admitting i have a problem! :)

Posted by: nall92 | September 17, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

What are video games?

Posted by: John McCain | September 17, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

What is birth control?

Posted by: Sarah Palin | September 17, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

As soon as the girls turned into teenagers, the video game playing time on computers got replaced by the human interaction tools like instant messaging, facebook, and text messaging via cell.
---------------------------------------------

When did texting, instant messaging and Facebook become human interaction?

Posted by: question? | September 17, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I think that schools should fund programs to give kids video games for every "A" they earn...

Posted by: SpareTheRod | September 17, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

When did texting, instant messaging and Facebook become human interaction?

Posted by: question? | September 17, 2008 9:03 AM

Whacky considers this blog "human interaction".

Posted by: Answer | September 17, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

"97 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 play video games."

Does this include the "at risk" kids?

Posted by: Wow! | September 17, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Chuck, stand up and let everyone see you playing Dance, Dance Revolution! Oh, God love ya, Chuck. Everyone stand up and play Dance, Dance Revolution for Chuck!

Posted by: Joe Biden | September 17, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Nothing going on here - time to take a dump.

Posted by: See ya | September 17, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Video Game!

(Now somebody's going to claim I said I "invented" the Video Game.)

Posted by: Al Gore | September 17, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Since when is 12 a teen?

Posted by: huh? | September 17, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

gottat put in my plug for dance, dance, revolution. i play it with my son in the evenings. aerobic exercise. don't have any of the other games.

Posted by: quark | September 17, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Nothing posted in over two hours? Where is everybody?

Posted by: Where is everybody? | September 17, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous killed the blog. As one poster said a couple of days ago, this blog has finally "jumped the shark."

Posted by: Lynne | September 17, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

As one poster said a couple of days ago, this blog has finally "jumped the shark."

Posted by: Lynne | September 17, 2008 1:41 PM

It's been said a lot of times...

There was a technical glitch, duh.

Posted by: Oh, brother | September 17, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

No kids for me but I would recommend the Sims or Spore for tweens and teens. Both of the games have open ended game play so they can be played for years, or until the newest versions come out =).

Violence is minimal in Spore (your creature can attack and kill another creature) and nonexistent for the Sims. So I consider that a plus as opposed to the first person shooter games out there.

Posted by: Meggers | September 17, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Nobody is going to admit *here* how much video game playing goes on in their homes, and face the troll-vomit that admission will heap on them.

And nobody who avoids all video game playing has anything to say on the topic.

See you tomorrow, when, hopefully, we'll have something worth a discussion in spite of the trolls.

Posted by: Sue | September 17, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Actor Ryan O'Neal and his son, Redmond, were arrested Wednesday at the actor's Malibu, Calif., home for alleged drug possession, a sheriff's spokesman confirms.

"This morning, deputies were doing a routine sweep to make sure Redmond was adhering to his probation," sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said. "Upon searching the premises, the younger O'Neal was found in possession of narcotics. Later, a vial of drugs were found in the elder O'Neal's bedroom. We believe the drugs found were methamphetamines."

Both Ryan, 67, and Redmond, 23, are being held at a local sheriff's station in lieu of $10,000 bail each.

Redmond O'Neal's mother is Farrah Fawcett and his half-sister is Tatum O'Neal, who was arrested July 1 in New York City for trying to buy drugs.

Reps for Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett weren't immediately available for comment.

Redmond has a history of drug abuse, having entered rehab in 2004 for heroin abuse. This past June, he pleaded guilty to drug possession and one misdemeanor DUI charge.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 17, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Wrong blog, doofus.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 17, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

"Nobody is going to admit *here* how much video game playing goes on in their homes, and face the troll-vomit that admission will heap on them.

And nobody who avoids all video game playing has anything to say on the topic."

Yup, it's called a "warsh".

Posted by: M | September 17, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Video games make great babysitters for lazy parents.

Posted by: SpareTheRod | September 17, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Before anyone says that some video games are educational, my response is: so are books.

Posted by: SpareTheRod | September 17, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Rachel Zoe, a blonde with a relaxed perm and roots that are visible on purpose, is a fashion stylist, which in her fortunate case means that she dresses celebrities, reportedly for up to $6,000 a day. As one of her assistants explained in the premiere episode of “The Rachel Zoe Project” (Tuesdays on Bravo): “We don’t just dress clients for award shows. We do premieres, personal appearances, personal shopping. We pretty much do everything.”

Even that sells Ms. Zoe short. More than any other stylist working in Hollywood today, she doesn’t merely peddle clothes, she emblazons an image, turning cipher nobodies into pretend somebodies. Although she has put grown women with viable acting careers into gowns — Debra Messing, Cameron Diaz — she is known more generally for forging a look of girlish vacancy, one that says: “I get up at noon. And then I spend my day refusing solid foods.”

A Starbucks cup is essential to the entire gestalt. If you have seen Mary-Kate Olsen, then you can envision Rachel Zoe. The look conveys idleness, and its uncanny effect has been to make people who don’t do anything famous for doing nothing. Styling celebrities in her own strung-out ’70s glam style — Grecian tops over lean trousers, boxy miniskirts, visible clavicles, bug-eyed sunglasses, heavy gold necklaces, big rings — Ms. Zoe has landed her clients on the pages of magazines like Us with an impressive regularity.

It was her foresight to notice that tabloids had pages to fill and couldn’t always do that with photos of Angelina Jolie on her way to an orphanage. It is largely because of her that the name Nicole Richie is more familiar than the name Nicolas Sarkozy. The stylist is Frankenstein; all the world’s Lindsay Lohans are her Creature.

Given that Ms. Zoe is already a pox on humanity — exploiting an aesthetic of dissipation, invading our collective consciousness and spraying it with dummy dust — it is amazing that “The Rachel Zoe Project,” which focuses on her career, manages to send its audience deeper into the territory of smug NPR obsessives who won’t stop ranting about triviality’s conquest of the American soul. First I hated the show for passing Ms. Zoe off as an innovator when all she does is recycle a look that has held appeal since Tom Ford’s days at Gucci. Then I hated it for turning me into Max von Sydow in “Hannah and Her Sisters,” a cranky old person hungering for anachronisms.

How I cling to my memories of Diana Vreeland. Ms. Zoe replaces the fashion personality’s eccentricity with perpetual dissatisfaction. She gets upset at an underling when rain water threatens to seep into her storage closet. She wants new pieces of furniture for her stark, modern Los Angeles house, even though she decorated it just two years ago.

“I love our furniture,” she tells her husband, Rodger, “but we’ve had it for a while.”

His hesitation doesn’t stop her. She charges ahead and buys an expensive credenza and a new sofa that looks exactly like her old sofa. “I don’t understand saving for the rainy day,” she says. “Live now. Live every day like it’s your last day.” Her whim isn’t really driven by an inspiration for change: She wants furniture that she hopes will better brand her for a photo shoot for the British edition of Elle Decor.

When Ms. Zoe isn’t talking about brand expansion — “I want to do my own clothing line. I want to do denim, obviously sunglasses, jewelry and bags”— she is expanding her own wardrobe. At Decades, a well-known vintage store in Los Angeles, she picks up another Hermès Birkin bag. One of her assistants tries to dissuade her: “You collect art. You don’t collect Birkin.”

“The Real Housewives of Orange County” has led the recent wave of reality programming about mad consumption. But it’s a genre that feels downright unseemly as investment banks are dissolving, and unemployment stands at more than 6 percent. It isn’t merely that “Rachel Zoe” lumbers along, asking us to get excited about a corporate work in progress — it’s also that the timing couldn’t be nuttier.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 17, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Okay, Spare. But I think the laziness factor may lie more with the kids who depend too much on them and TV for quick, easy entertainment. The older kids are the ones who can really handle video games independently, right? So, older kids (generally) need less supervision and seek more independent activities. Video games would be one of those activities.

I agree that reading is a great pasttime. But not all books are created equal. Many books out there are no better than some of those video games.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | September 17, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The Real Housewives of Orange County” has led the recent wave of reality programming about mad consumption. But it’s a genre that feels downright unseemly as investment banks are dissolving, and unemployment stands at more than 6 percent. It isn’t merely that “Rachel Zoe” lumbers along, asking us to get excited about a corporate work in progress — it’s also that the timing couldn’t be nuttier.


I agree, but in reality 6 percent unemployment is apretty good number, just like zoe, the american public lives in a fantasy land of what is realistic and think that every wish should be instantly fulfilled and pout when it isn't. By the way these "banks" are doing what is natural, they are going out of business after making stupid decisions and conducting bad business models. We will turn around, we always do.

Posted by: then there's reality | September 17, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Nobody is going to admit *here* how much video game playing goes on in their homes, and face the troll-vomit that admission will heap on them.

And nobody who avoids all video game playing has anything to say on the topic.

See you tomorrow, when, hopefully, we'll have something worth a discussion in spite of the trolls.

Posted by: Sue | September 17, 2008 3:04 PM

i don't know sue, spare the rod didn't post until almost 4pm. that's not bad.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 17, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

wah, poor anonymous, no one would play with you today. ha ha, that's what happens to the bully after people catch on.

Posted by: lol | September 17, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

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