Pluralization is closely connected to individualization, because the latter gives space and freedom for more diversity in lifestyles, beliefs or attitudes. One of the paradoxical aspects of postmodern societies is the permeation of cultural and economic developments. The plurality of options and cultures is partly a result of economic impacts on cultural developments, as it goes along with an expansion of commercialized forms of leisure and media culture.
These considerations were part of the theoretical framework of our study. Changing media cultures are a part and also an expression of more complex changes in society. On this background we tried to provide a comprehensive account of children's use of electronic games in their everyday life and of their attitudes towards these interactive media.
We focused on the "computer gaming cultures" of 7 to 14 year old children. The aim was to get a better understanding of how the children used video and computer games, how they integrated these new media into their leisure activities and peer groups, and how they valued different aspects of the games. We interviewed the children themselves as experts of their media culture, and we assumed that the children were capable of providing relevant and valid information.
The approach can be characterized as descriptive and analytical. We did not want to teach the children anything, but we wanted to learn more about the children's views and ideas. Therefore, we tried to avoid any normative message or statement when we addressed the children.
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Our project design was as follows: 1, children filled in a self-completion questionnaire at school. The main areas covered by the questionnaire were use of computer games, social context of use, parental mediation, preferred games and importance of leisure activities. In addition, the children were asked to judge several features and qualities of computer games which referred to four different dimensions: general acceptance, visual and acoustic presentation, dramatic involvement and required competency.
Some of the socio-economic data we raised were family and household data e. About a year after this main study had been finished with regard to the collection of data 21 qualitative interviews focusing more closely on individual preferences and socio-economic backgrounds were conducted in order to perhaps identify different styles of computer game usage.
In the following I will concentrate on the first study and present selected findings. They do not pretend to give a complete picture of the children's gaming culture, but may highlight some basic features. The main distinction we wanted to draw here was between regular gamers, casual gamers and non-gamers. In a pre-test we tried to develop items which came close to how the children would describe how often they play computer games.
We finally decided to use the following items:. I play video or computer games regularly - several times a day - every day - at least once a week. I play video or computer games casually - mostly on weekends - quite seldom, maybe once or twice a month - once in a while, but then maybe for several hours - in another way.
I don't play video or computer games - never tried it - only tried it, but didn't continue - used to play, but don't play anymore. More than half of the boys Only 2. The questionnaire included several questions for those who did not play. Lacking access to a computer or a console does not seem to be of any relevance here. On the whole video and computer games seem to be a matter-of-course for most of the children.
But there are significant gender differences here - and in most other areas of the study. This indicates different media use styles, and to some extent different leisure preferences of boys and girls. A second question referred to the favourite games of the children. In order to reduce the complexity of the questionnaire we decided to ask the children to name their current favourite video or computer game open question.
The others wrote down a short description or explained it to the interviewers e. Boys and girls reported different preferences Figure 5. The favourite games of the boys were action and fighting games 33 percent , sport games 21 percent and platform games 17 percent. The favourite games of the girls, on the other hand, were platform games 48 percent and think or puzzle games 20 percent.
As the different types of games represent different contents these findings probably reflect well-known gender differences with regard to relevant interests. Public discourses on computer games and children suggest that these interactive media have gained a dominant position in the leisure time of children and have begun to substitute more appreciated leisure activities like reading or sports. Sometimes they are believed to contribute to a general shift towards more indoor-oriented and individualized leisure activities. A look at the reported frequency of playing computer games and at the economic success of gaming hardware and software seems to back suppositions like that.
However, some of our findings have put these suppositions into question mark. We asked, for example, in which situations the children decided to play at the PC or a console. The idea here was not to analyze the fascinating and motivating forces of computer games, but to have a look at possible situations in which children would tend to play computer games.
The following options were offered: . The three possible answers which were most broadly accepted were Figure 6 : when there is nothing else to do about 83 percent of the children agreed , when the weather is bad and I cannot go outside 81 percent of the boys and about 65 percent of the girls agreed and when nobody is there to do something else with 76 percent of the boys and 66 percent of the girls agreed. This may indicate that video and computer games are important media to pass the time between other activities and to fill somehow empty parts of the day.
It seems that children choose this option especially when other attractive options are not accessible.
The answers suggest that computer games not only are relevant in situations where the children are alone, but also when friends are present. The possibility to play computer games with someone else appeals to boys more than to girls 74 percent of the boys and 59 percent of the girls agreed.
The children, especially the boys, are interested in integrating the games into their peer activities. In these contexts the children are able to compare and compete with others, to demonstrate their progress in a game, to get help or advise on difficult parts of a game or to discuss the games.
About one-third of the children reported they played computer games when they did not want to do their homework for school. For them the games may be a way of avoiding or postponing a more or less unpleasant duty. About one-quarter played in any possible situation boys 30 percent and girls 18 percent. This indicates a use of computer games which is largely independent of specific situations.
On the other hand we have to be cautious not to jump to conclusions. We had a closer look at the children who reported they played as often as possible: About half of them 53 percent said they in fact played every day. This figure is significantly above the average of the whole sample about 30 percent, see Figure 4 , but it still leaves us with 47 percent who play "as often as possible" and do not play every day.
The children's reports about situations where computer or video games were played did not back a substitution-hypothesis. But in that part of the questionnaire the focus was not clearly put on leisure situations or activities. In another part of the questionnaire, however, this was case. On the one hand we offered a selection of activities and asked the children to tell us whether they performed each of them "often," "sometimes" or "never.
On the other hand we asked the children to name their favourite leisure activity see the next chapter. With regard to the first question we get a picture which, on the whole, can be regarded as relatively unspectacular. Compared to more traditional activities computer games seem to be of less importance. The data presented in Figure 7 show how many percent of the boys and girls reported performing the named activities "often.
In the "top three" we find the same three activities for boys and for girls: playing outside with others, listening to music and playing sports. The ranking, however, is different. Listening to music seems to be of more importance for the girls, going outside for play or sport activities are more often reported by the boys. A noteworthy finding is that the children on the whole do not regard "watching television or video films" as something they do "often. But "watching television or video films" and "playing computer games" were the two items which collected the most "sometimes" answers more than 60 percent.
Studies that have measured time spent watching television tell us that the number of minutes per day spent watching television clearly tops that of audio media. For example, the average figures in a European comparative study were minutes television compared to 90 minutes audio media ; the corresponding German figures in the study were minutes and 52 minutes Beentjes et al.
We assume that television and electronic games - from the children's perspective - are a matter-of-course, but are not predominant media and do not represent the core of their leisure activities and interests. We also carried out a correspondence analysis which related the children's reports on their leisure activities to their reported frequency of playing computer games Figure 4. The findings can be summarized as follows:.
Boys who report playing electronic games "daily" more often "play alone inside" 29 percent compared to an average of 22 percent. Girls who report playing electronic games "daily" more often "watch television or video films" 45 percent compared to an average of 30 percent. There is no evidence that the use of interactive media replaces the use of traditional screen media. There is no evidence that boys or girls who often play electronic games are less engaged in sport activities.
On the contrary, there is a statistically non-significant tendency that suggests that daily use of computer games goes along with sport activities 62 percent to 59 percent. There is also no evidence that computer games replace reading. At first glance there seems to be such a statistical correspondence, but indepth analysis reveals that this is due to gender: Girls read more often than boys, but are less engaged with the new interactive media. Within both gender groups there is no correspondence between the frequency of playing computer games and reading. We may conclude that computer games, on the whole, do not replace other leisure activities like sports or reading.
Instead there seem to be different patterns of combining media activities with other non-media activities in children's leisure time. Computer games do play an important role in situations when children are bored, have to wait or have the impression there is nothing else to do. The relevance of computer games and maybe also television in the everyday life of children may therefore be seen as a measure for the relevance of individualized "gaps" in the late modern or postmodern timetables of children.
Our hypothesis therefore is that media use replaces traditional times of doing nothing or nothing special like looking out of the window , rather than any other "activity" also Hengst, The answers to the question of what activities children perform often, sometimes or never represent the children's subjective perception of their leisure time structure. In order to get more information on their leisure preferences and interests we also included an open-ended question into the questionnaire asking for the children's favourite activity or hobby.
Altogether children from 1, named their favourite leisure activity. The only media-related activity of some importance was reading, which about 5 percent of the girls named as their favourite activity Figure 8. Not all of the reported sport items are selective. Some children wrote down a specific kind of sport like horse riding, handball or football soccer.
Others referred to sport activities without specifying the kind of sport they participated in. Zinnecker et al. The gender differences, again, are apparent and statistically highly significant for horse riding, football, reading and handball. The reported favourite leisure activities also back the above-mentioned hypothesis of playing computer games - from the children's perspective - being a second-choice activity.
They may like it, but they won't call it their favourite activity. We tried to get some information about the social context of the children's computer gaming cultures using questions like "Where do you get the information about a 'good' game? This seems to be true for boys as well as for girls, but boys, on average, play more frequently alone as well as with others and show a greater interest in games and related issues.
It is friends who know about new games which might be of interest. There are two relevant means of communication which may supplement and permeate each other: One option is that the children are told there is a new game verbal channel ; another, more comprehensive option is that they see and try a new game at a friend's home. Most parents, therefore, are not positively involved in the children's gaming cultures - besides the fact that they often pay for the games. But parents obviously try to somehow control the children's gaming activities from the outside, especially with regard to time and with regard to violent games.
So the majority of parents have a sceptical eye on what is going on, but are mainly practicing a negative form of intervention, and do not give any positive advice. The children know about this and therefore sometimes don't tell them what kind of games they are playing about 25 percent of the children reported this. Socio-cultural environments do not only consist of more or less relevant others, they also consist of different media. With regard to the problem of being informed about 'good' new computer games the children also to some degree rely on what they find in other media.
About 25 percent of the children for instance said they were "often" curious about or liked games which had protagonists they knew from films or television like Asterix or Hercules. This, by the way, was significantly more important for the youngest children of our sample the 7 to 8 year-olds. More than 18 percent of the children girls It seems noteworthy that the figures for these two items clearly surpass those for the family related items "mother", "sister" and "father".
For the boys "tests in gamers' magazines" represent a third relevant option which refers to other media 22 percent , but the magazines obviously do not appeal to most of the girls 6 percent. What the children reported about "whom they play video and computer games together with" Figure 10 leads us to a similar conclusion: The games are more often and more closely connected to peer relations than to family life.
Parents are more or less external observers. Only a few seem to participate in their children's gaming culture.
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In addition, we learn from this last figure that the children's main reference group is the peer group of the same gender. Boys prefer to play with other boys, and girls most often play together with other girls. There seems to be one exception from the tendency to stay with members of the same gender: brothers or sisters. There is no evidence that suggests we need to be alarmed about children's gaming cultures.
Even children who are quite engaged, in terms of frequency and general interest in playing computer games, apparently do not give up other activities and interests like outdoor and sport activities. Our findings also do not suggest that electronic gaming leads to social isolation. In most cases it seems to be fully integrated into existing peer relationships. To be together with friends for the great majority of children remains the favoured leisure activity..
The interactive qualities of computer technology are quite attractive in situations when children are alone, however. In most cases, arents or other adults do not participate in children's gaming cultures in an active or interactive way. Playing computer games is not - maybe not yet - a common project of the family.
On the one hand this may be regarded as something that should be accepted or even supported, because children want and need to have their own spheres. On the other hand it raises the question of whether or not media education in a wide sense should restrict itself to controlling media use from the outside. In my view the pedagogical task remains to actively and also critically accompany the children's process of growing up and developing their relationship to the cultural world.
And the task remains to secure a pluralitity of resources and challenges they can use to develop their cognitive, social, and physical abilities. Beentjes, Johannes W. Bovill Eds. A European Comparative Study. Chisholm, Lynne et al. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, Elder, Glen H. In Social Psychology Quarterly 57, , 1. Jugend, Information, Multi- Media. Basic investigation of the media use of 12 to 19 year-olds in Germany. Ergebnisse und offene Fragen. Results and open questions.
Fritz Ed. Veranstaltungsdokumentation, Band 1. Proceedings, Volume 1. Schweer Ed. Vertrauen und soziale Verantwortung. Trust and social responsibility. Fehr Eds. Lernprozesse im Umgang mit interaktiven Medien. Learning processes with interactive media. Support the University. Welcome to Luxembourg.
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Caring for the elderly: Effects on Family and Adolescents. Gesellschaftliche Herausforderungen und soziale Sicherung in Luxemburg Willems, Helmut Article for general public Wiesbaden: Springer VS Workingpaper 3. Lern- und Entwicklungsprozesse im Rahmen des Pilotprojektes. Rekonstruktion des Entstehungs- und Implementierungsprozesses des Pilotprojektes.
Workingpaper 2. Die Sicht der Jugendlichen auf das Projekt. Workingpaper 5. Workingpaper 4. Effects of ethnic group density on young migrants' health and health behaviour. Gesellschaftskritische Orientierungen linker Aktivisten — Ergebnisse einer qualitativen Studie. Health inequalities in Youth: Do objective and subjective family affluence matter?
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Does relative and subjective family affluence influence overweight, body image and weight reduction behaviour of adolescents in Luxembourg? Abschlussbericht eines qualitativen Forschungsprojekts. Politisches Interesse, politisches Wissen und politische Partizipation der Jugendlichen in Luxemburg. Fit for future? Fit for life? Workingpaper 1. Joachim, Patrice ; Willems, Helmut Report Rekonstruktion des Entstehungs- und Implementierungsprozesses des Modellprojektes. The evaluation of the Luxemburgish Youth Pact as an instrument for cross-sectoral youth policy Residori, Caroline ; Reichert, Claudine ; Willems, Helmut Conference given outside the academic context Lernprozesse und Lernerfahrungen in Jugendprojekten.
A generation between political disillusion and social engagement. How do young people engage in European societies? Jungen in der luxemburgischen Gesellschaft.
Ungleichheiten, Belastungen und Herausforderungen. Between endangered integration and political disillusion: The situation of young people in Europe. Jugend in Europa. Die Rolle des Expertenwissens in der Jugendberichterstattung. Armes Luxemburg? Theoretische Konzeption und erste empirische Befunde. Jugendberichterstattung in Zeiten der Krise. Der erste luxemburgische Jugendbericht. Jugendforschung zwischen Partizipation und lokaler Politikplanung.
Die Jugend in den Gemeinden Sandweiler und Contern. Die Jugend in den Gemeinden Niederanven und Betzdorf. Schulsozialarbeit Steffgen, Georges ; Schneider, M. Welchen Beitrag leistet die Schule zum Zusammenhalt in der Gesellschaft? Willems, Helmut Scientific Conference Dokumentation der Prozessbegleitung der Ideenwerkstatt LaborLux. Die Jugend in Esch. Rapport provisoire. Gewalt Structured dialogue between decision-makers, practitioners and researchers as a core device in youth-policy making Willems, Helmut in Milmeister, Marianne; Williamson, Howard Eds. Halle-Neustadt - Ein Stadtteil mit Zukunft?
Jg Heft 3 , Willems, Helmut ; Steigleder, Sandra Article for general public Integration als Erfolgsfaktor Willems, Helmut Article for general public Jugendkonflikte oder hate crime? Interaktions- und Eskalationsprozesse im Kontext rechter und fremdenfeindlicher Gewalt. Fremdenfeindliche Diskriminierungen und interethnische Gewalt in benachteiligten Stadtvierteln.
Xenophobia and Violence in Germany from to Paper presented at the International Society of Political Psychology. Willems, Helmut ; Eckert, Roland Presentation Unbekanntere Seiten von Fremdenfeindlichkeit und wie man damit umgeht. Jugend in der DDR.