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Video games linked to sexism in teenagers, finds new Study


GRENOBLE – A new study among thousands of French gaming aficionados has found a correlation between the time teenagers spent playing video games and sexist attitudes. However, no evidence has been provided showing that it’s the games themselves that are reinforcing certain attitudes towards women.

The study carried out by a team of French and US researchers compared the time spent by 13,520 young people playing video games and their attitudes to women and gender roles.

The results published on Friday in the Frontiers in Psychology journal suggest that increased exposure to video games is associated with higher levels of stereotyping and sexism among teenagers.

“Sexist representations saturate advertising, television and cinema. Video games are no exception,” Laurent Begue, co-author of the study from Grenoble Alps University, told AFP.

“Content analysis has shown that women are under-represented in popular video games. They have passive roles, they are princesses who need to be saved or secondary, sexualised objects of conquest,” he added.

Although women are the main victims of stereotyping, men are also affected, being portrayed as “more active, armed and muscular”.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, in 2014 almost half of video game players were female.

Both boys and girls participated in the study (51 and 49 percent respectively), but results indicated that sexism was higher among males. Playing time varied from one to 10  hours a day.

Researchers from Savoie Mont Blanc University in France and Iowa State University in the United States also collaborated in the project.

Previous experiments had shown that playing specific video games for a few minutes can reinforce sexist attitudes, but the new study is the first large-scale examination of the phenomenon among teenagers.

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The survey questioned teens aged between 11 to 19, living in the southeastern cities of Lyon and Grenoble.

Begue cautioned that despite the “statistically significant” link between sexism and video games, the influence of gaming on teenagers’ attitudes remains limited.

Religious fervour was a greater determinant of sexism, the researchers noted.

Television, on the other hand, had a smaller impact than video games.

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