@Linda (18 Feb 2010): Thanks for the pointers. I am familiar with the Pew Internet work, but not the others. I'm surprised that anyone is saying that "...the average American kid spends 10,000 hours on games like World Of Warcraft..."
'Teens, video games and civics' pointed out that most American kids are not playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like World of Warcraft. Only one in five, in fact. Those that do are "...more likely to play games on a daily basis and more likely to play for longer periods of time", but they are not the average American kid.
Virtually all American teens are playing some sort of computer or video game, but not games like WoW. It turns out that most of the bell-curve is playing racing and puzzle games.
And the diversity of games that they play is enormous. The top ten games mentioned in the Pew Internet work are Guitar Hero, Halo (two versions), Madden NFL (two versions), Solitaire, Dance Dance Revolution, Tetris, Grand Theft Auto and The Sims. There is no common link between those games except that they are computer games. I can't imagine anything more different than the quiet, traditional problem solving of Solitaire or Tetris versus the speed, colour and mayhem of Grand Theft Auto or Halo, for example.
They do play a lot of games and they spend a lot of time doing it. Just not on WoW and probably not the same amount of time that they spend in secondary school. In the Pew Internet survey, fifty percent said that they hadn't played a game 'yesterday'. Only three in ten said that they played a game every day. If seven out of ten aren't playing every day, I don't see how they can possibly rack up 35 hours a week of gaming. I suppose 12 - 15 hours a day on the weekend and 2 - 3 hours every day or two during the week would get you there. I'm sure that there are kids in America doing that. My nephews in Sydney might even fit that profile. But it doesn't seem to fit the profile of the _average_ American kid as described by the Pew Internet work.