Social Media Use vs Video Game Play: Hall and Van de Castle Content Analysis of Dreams

Jayne Gackenbach, Arielle Boyes and Sarah Gahr

As technology use has become increasingly pervasive, it is of interest to examine heavy social media users compared to high end video game players in terms of the content of a recent dream gathered from each group. We would expect gamers to evidence more aggression and less pro-social interactions, while we would expect the opposite of high end social media users. We collected over 500 surveys from students at a Western Canadian University who varied along these dimensions. Of the first 127 randomly chosen dreams which were content analyzed using the Hall and Van de Castle (HVDC) system, two extreme media use groups were identified. Those who were Gamers (n=23) (males=19; females=4). They reported playing from several times a week to daily and had played a video game in the 24 hours prior to taking the survey almost all of which were combat centric. The second group was identified as high social media users (n=33) (males=3; females=30). They reported infrequent gaming (average less than once a month to once a month) but frequent social media use, i.e., daily facebook plus daily to several times a week twitter, tumblr or instgram use. Not surprisingly these media use groups fell along sex lines. Therefore they were separately compared to the HVDC norms as a function of sex. The major finding was that there were 11 differences from the male norms for the gamers and nine differences from the female norms for the social media group. Using Domhoff and Schneider’s system of data entry there are 25 possible statistical tests done.

                In terms of the social interaction percentages the gamers, as hypothesized, compared to the male norms had higher aggression/friendliness percents and higher physical aggression. But as shown in our earlier work there was no difference in aggressor percent nor in dreams with at least one aggression.  The social media users, relative to the female norms, were also higher on the aggression/friendliness percent but did not differ in the physical aggression percent or the other two variables involving aggression.  In terms of prosocial interactions, there was no difference from the same sex norms for either group for befriender percent. Both media use groups dreams were coded as having fewer dreams with at least one incident of friendliness.  The social interaction ratios showed some differences as a function of media use groups. Specifically, the friendliness per character index was lower for the gamers than the male norms but this was also the case for the social media users relative to the female norms. We can conclude with this minimal data set that the only difference between the media groups, relative to their norms, was in terms of a bit more aggression in the gamers, with that one exception it seems that their differences from the norms are more generational than type of media used.

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