Study Shows Video Games Are Good for Kids in Small Doses

Study: moderate amounts of video games are healthy for kids
Research published this week in The Journal of Pediatrics shows that video games might not be as bad for kids as most people think. Console and handheld fantasy games have previously been portrayed as having monstrous effects on children, supposedly causing everything from increases in violent behavior to intimacy problems and emotional detachment. This made a lot of parents try to steer their kids away from video games toward other activities such as board games. But according to Andrew Przybylski, an Experimental Psychologist and research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute in the UK, these negative attributes may not be true.

He decided to take a closer look at the issue and made some interesting discoveries about video games and the mental health of children between 10 and 15 years old. The study collected data on 5,000 UK-based girls and boys, asking them how often they play, how long they play and what they feel like before, during and after they play video games. It also posed specific questions to the children on how satisfied they were with their lives, whether they would help if they saw someone in trouble, how well they got on with children of the same age and how easy it was to concentrate.

After analyzing and comparing the data between players and non players, he concluded the kids who played video games for a short time each day were not only more satisfied with their lives, they got along better with others and didn’t blame or externalize their problems as much as non-players did.

But there were other factors which need to be taken into account when considering the results. As Reuters reports, “The game’s content and whether or not a parent plays with the child may be more important to mental and social health than how long the game is played.”

The study also showed more than three of hours of video gaming per day would have a negative effect on children. Przybylski told the BBC that this is likely because of a reduction in other family orientated and rewarding activities. He said factors such as the strength of family relationships will play a large role in determining the mental health of a child.

It can’t be denied that video games have a bad reputation. Some researchers think they are beneficial while others link them to violent acts. But it’s refreshing to see some research that provides a more balanced point of view. Could it be that, much like other aspects of life, moderation is the key to video game guidance? According to this study, it may actually be OK to allow our kids to blow off some steam in the digital world.

It’s nice to know if we make sure kids receive plenty of love and attention when they’re away from the screen, we can allow them to be kids, to share the language and adrenalin of gaming, and to have some fun in their spare time without dire consequences for doing so.

(Photo courtesy of Eric Holsinger)

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One Response to Study Shows Video Games Are Good for Kids in Small Doses

  1. dan says:

    Most things aren’t bad for you if you have the discipline do them in moderation. The problem with video games is some kids spend 8 hours a day playing them.

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