Not unlike so many things in life, apparently video gaming in moderation might not be so bad for you after all. So says a recent study that claims children who play video games for less than an hour a day turn out as more well adjusted teens.
The findings, based on 2014 research done by Oxford University focused on 5,000 children ages 10-15, divided equally among girls and boys, in households throughout the UK. Perhaps the most interesting aspect to their findings was that the researchers found that the children that indulged in the moderate amount of video game play were not only more well-adjusted than those that played for more than three hours daily, they were also more well-adjusted than those who never played video games at all.
Along with being questioned on the amount of time they play video games the children were also asked to fill out a questionnaire that included such questions as how satisfied they were with their lives, the levels of hyperactivity and inattention, empathy and their relationship with their peers.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Andrew Przybylski from the Oxford Internet Institute explained in a released statement regarding the findings, “These results support recent laboratory-based experiments that have identified the downsides to playing electronic games. However, high levels of video game-playing appear to be only weakly linked to children’s behavioral problems in the real world. Likewise, the small, positive effects we observed for low levels of play on electronic games do not support the idea that video games on their own can help children develop in an increasingly digital world.”
Past studies on the affects what researchers refer to as “non-interactive forms of entertainment” have suggested parents would do well to impose time limits for how long their children play video games on a daily basis. However, the Oxford University study appears to argue that such guidelines have little scientific basis. The report claims that, “the relative benefits or risks of games vary widely in how they are structured and in the incentives they offer players.”
Dr. Przybylski adds that there are several factors at play when determining the potential negative and positive affects video games may be having on children.
“Some of the positive effects identified in past gaming research were mirrored in these data but the effects were quite small, suggesting that any benefits may be limited to a narrow range of action games,” he added. “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.”
Researchers on the study did add that further research is needed to determine the specific attributes of games that make them beneficial or harmful. They also added that an even deeper understanding was needed in future studies of the effect social environments such as family, peers, and the community shape how gaming experiences/habits influence young people.