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>> ...there's been much talk about the problems of excessive gaming leading
>> to obesity, for example, not to mention affected "real" relationships with peers.
> Obesity could be attributed to other causes - more eating, television, a
> change in exercise patterns, more driving and less walking, etc. I would be
> interesting to know how a study would establish a link to a single specific
> cause of obesity.
Actually, a recent study indicated that having fat friends was one of the most likely indicators of obesity:
"Obesity can spread from person to person, much like a virus, according to researchers. When one person gains weight, close friends tend to gain weight too."
"The answer, the researchers report, was that people were most likely to become obese when a friend became obese. That increased one's chances of becoming obese by 57 percent."
I'm betting that's a MUCH higher correlation than video games. So maybe people who have tendency toward obesity need to stay away from their fat friends and go play some video games!
> I'm not sure that I accept the premise that online conversation is not "the
> real thing."
I agree with Jon on this one. There are certainly limitations imposed by the medium, but there are advantages created by it as well that create a different quality of conversation -- not inferior, just different. For example, people can think more carefully about what they say in virtual interaction. They can research and back up their position with facts rather than conjecture. People are often willing to contribute virtually in a conversation with people who they would be intimidated by face-to-face.
We did an extensive survey of the recent research comparing virtual interaction with face-to-face interaction in Chapter 3 of "The Virtual Handshake". Since it's available for free download (http://TheVirtualHandshake.com/free-book-download), I strongly encourage anyone interested in the topic to take a read.
> The article says pretty clearly that it's speculation, not based on real
> data. Wouldn't it be better to compare divorces among couples who met
> online vs divorces for couples who didn't?
Some of the studies we refer to in the abovementioned chapter found that people like each other better when they ﬁrst meet virtually than when they first meet face to face. A key explanation was that people tend to project their ideal or hoped-for qualities onto those whom they initially meet remotely. Because they have minimal data, they err on the optimistic side when evaluating the unknown person.
For more, see:
J. A. Bargh, K. Y. A. McKenna, and G. M. Fitzsimons, “Can you see the real me?
Activation and expression of the “true self” on the Internet,” Journal of Social
Issues 58 (2002): 33-48.
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