How Do Adolescents Describe Their Relationship with Video Games?

Michele Chaplen (2010)

The impact of electronic media on our nation's youth is a topic fraught with controversy and concern, with video games often topping the list. A digital generation gap, between the gaming experiences of adolescents and adults, has hampered a collaborative understanding of this twentieth century phenomenon. Parents, teachers and psychologists acknowledge the significant influence of video games, yet the existing literature reveals little of gamers themselves. This dissertation strives to bridge the digital gap by adding the perspective of the target population, through their narrative experience of video games. Their narratives are analyzed for emerging themes of connection and disconnection as defined by Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT). A framework of connection and disconnection organizes the fourteen significant themes, which emerged from the narratives. These themes are further categorized into three super-ordinate themes, intrapersonal perspectives, interpersonal dynamics and meta-relational views. The interviewee's themes are systematized with this framework to best describe adolescent's relationship with video media. A richer understanding of adolescent gaming relationships may illuminate psychological discourse, educate concerned adults, and inform further research.