Sex, Love, and Video Games

Super Mario by Tom Newby Photography on Flickr.

Super Mario

“Where did all that time go?”

Responses vary: Facebook. Sleeping. Eating. Fantasy baseball. Giving the kids a bath. Reading. Work. IDK. Today we might even hear “YOLO” in response — even though that doesn’t exactly make sense and until recently would have been a very uncool reply.

But for millennial and Gen-Xer men, psychologist Phil Zimbardo can account for a large portion of where all that time went.

In his TED talk and the recently released book, The Demise of Guys (co-authored with Nikita Duncan), Zimbardo claims that the average male millennial spends 676 hours per year playing video games. For those keeping score at home, that’s a little more than 28 days a year. And by the age of 21, the average young man will have spent 10,000 hours gaming (math time: that’s over 400 days, or well over a year.).

But video games are not the only digital pastime absorbing the time and attention of young men. Zimbardo and Duncan also report that that in the course of a week, the average millennial watches 50 clips of pornography each week, totaling roughly two hours weekly. (I pulled out my calculator again, and that’s over four full days a year.)

How do we choose to spend our time? The data suggest one answer: young men are devoting about 10% of their lives to games and porn.

How do we choose to spend our time? Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. had another answer: love is what

“will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart…”

Zimbardo and Duncan are concerned about the societal causes and implications of the way young men are spending their time. But if “time spent” is any indicator of who we are and what we love (and I agree with Fr. Arrupe: it is), then we should be concerned as well. If a young man’s “loves” are video games and porn, what other and deeper loves are being crowded out?

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