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Playing Video Games Every Day Can Actually Be Good For Kids

video gamesBy Brad Broker

This Physicians News story can be republished for free. (See details)

Every few months, research shows that video games are either great or awful for kids when the truth most likely falls somewhere in the middle.  Now, a new study has found that children who spend a little time each day playing electronic games are more socially successful and have greater life satisfaction.

Results of a new study published in the current edition of the journal Pediatrics “suggested there are potential benefits for children who engage in low levels of daily game play and downsides for those who play excessively,” according to Andrew K. Przybylski, PhD, University of Oxford, England.

The study included the daily video game habits of almost 5,000 boys and girls aged 10-15.  Researchers measured several aspects of psychosocial adjustment including internalizing and externalizing emotional and relationship problems; prosocial behavior (“I try to be nice to people”); and level of happiness overall across five life domains (school, school work, appearance, family, and friends).

Dr. Przybylski then categorized players to three levels — low (those kids who play up to one hour per day); moderate (between one and three hours); and high (greater than three hours) — and compared those kids to non-players.

The kids who play electronic games up to one hour per day were found to have higher levels of prosocial behavior, greater life satisfaction, and lower levels of internalizing behavior than those of non-players.  Not surprisingly, the results were flipped for high level players, who showed “higher levels of internalizing and externalizing problems and lower levels of prosocial behavior and life satisfaction” compared to non-players.

Moderate levels of play, according to the study, “were not associated with either positive or negative indicators of children’s adjustment.”

“The link between electronic game play and psychosocial functioning is nuanced and suggests that the limits-focused guidelines advanced by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and Royal College of Pediatrics may need further evaluation,” said Dr. Przybylski, an experimental psychologist and a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute.

(Photo by Sherif Salama via Flickr)

One comment

  1. Could the causality of the findings be more likely in the opposite direction. That is, more prosocial kids are less likely to seek to play videogames for longer periods as they find entertainment in a group of friends away from videogames. Concordontly, kids that demonstrate higher levels of internalizing and externalizing problems and lower levels of prosocial behavior and life satisfaction seek the refuge of videogames as they can’t fulfill their needs through social interaction.

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