Could a video game a day keep the doctor away? New research from Oxford University shows that kids who engage in less than an hour of video game playing each day are better adjusted and have fewer conduct problems than those who have never played or those who play for three hours or more.
When game time went over one hour, those positive effects diminished. And when kids gamed for more than three hours a day, kids were more likely to suffer from hyperactivity and attention problems, show a lack of empathy, and report less satisfaction with life.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that the influence of video games on children is still very small when compared with more “enduring” factors, such as whether the child lives in a stable family, has good school relationships, or is materially deprived.
The research involved nearly 5,000 young people (ages 10-15 years), half male and half female, who were pulled from a nationally representative study of UK households.
Participants were asked how much time they typically spent on console-based or computer based games. They also answered questions about how satisfied they were with their lives, their levels of hyperactivity and inattention, empathy, and how well they got along with their peers.
The results showed that three in four children and teenagers played video games on a daily basis, and that those who spent more than half their daily free time playing electronic games were not as well adjusted. The researchers speculate that perhaps these children are missing out on other enriching activities or possibly exposing themselves to inappropriate content designed for adults.
On the other hand, kids who played video games for less than an hour (estimated to be less than one-third of their daily free time), were found to have the highest levels of sociability and were most likely to say they were satisfied with their lives. They also appeared to have fewer problems with friendships and negative feelings, and reported less hyperactivity than the other groups.
“Further research needs to be carried out to look closely at the specific attributes of games that make them beneficial or harmful. It will also be important to identify how social environments such as family, peers, and the community shape how gaming experiences influence young people,” said study author Andrew Przybylski, Ph.D., from the Oxford Internet Institute.
Source: Oxford University