The Displacement Hypothesis says that one activity can displace another activity.

In the following research by Robert Weis and Brittany Cerankosky, boys given video games (1) did worse in school, (2) spent less time in other after-school activities, (3) had more behavioral problems, and (4) had lower reading and writing scores.

Abstract of the Research Article:

Young boys who did not own video games were promised a video-game system and child-appropriate games in exchange for participating in an “ongoing study of child development.” After baseline assessment of boys’ academic achievement and parent- and teacher-reported behavior, boys were randomly assigned to receive the video-game system immediately or to receive the video-game system after follow-up assessment, 4 months later. Boys who received the system immediately spent more time playing video games and less time engaged in after-school academic activities than comparison children. Boys who received the system immediately also had lower reading and writing scores and greater teacher-reported academic problems at follow-up than comparison children. Amount of video-game play mediated the relationship between video-game ownership and academic outcomes. Results provide experimental evidence that video games may displace after-school activities that have educational value and may interfere with the development of reading and writing skills in some children.

Analogs in Adult Learning

Are there analogs in adult learning? In a quick database review I couldn’t uncover any research on the displacement hypothesis with adults, but here are some learning events that may displace other learning events:

  1. Twitter
  2. Social Networking
  3. Web Surfing
  4. Blogs
  5. RSS following
  6. Gaming

Postscript:

When I asked the lead author if he knew of any studies on adults regarding the displacement hypothesis, he said “no,” but he pointed me to this article on college students.