An hour of video games a day is good for kids, according to study

Many of us are used to hearing the arguments that video games are bad for children, but there's now peer-reviewed research indicating that the opposite may be true. 

A study - conducted by Oxford University, and published in the medical journal Pediatrics - tested nearly 5,000 children, and compared those who played no video games at all with those that played them for various amounts of time per day. For those who insist that such games do nothing but destroy the minds of children, the results may well prove eye-opening. 

An estimated 75% of under-18s in the UK play video games at least once a day, but it was those that played for up to an hour a day that saw the greatest benefits.

"Young people who indulged in a little video game-playing were associated with being better adjusted than those who had never played," according to the study. "Those who played video games for less than an hour... were associated with the highest levels of sociability and were most likely to say they were satisfied with their lives. They also appeared to have fewer friendship and emotional problems, and reported less hyperactivity than the other groups." 

It was only those who played for periods longer than three hours every day that saw measurably negative or 'harmful' effects. Around 10-15% of children spend such long amounts of time gaming each day, and the study found that these young persons were typically 'less well-adjusted', as The Telegraph reports. The study suggested that this was because such "excessive" periods of gaming were potentially depriving them of "other enriching activities", such as socializing with friends or physical exercise. 

Nonetheless, the study found that the effects - both positive and negative - of gaming on a child's behaviour and development were fairly small overall. Although the research found that playing lots of video games seems to be "only weakly linked to children's behavioural problems in the real world", it also found that "the small, positive effects we observed for low levels of [gaming] do not support the idea that video games on their own can help children to develop in an increasingly digital world." 

The author of the report on which the study was based, Dr Andrew Przybylski, suggested that more research was needed. Even so, it seems that gaming isn't quite as corrosive to the wellbeing, mental health and development of a child as some people would like you to believe. But don't just park your kids in front of a console for all hours of the day and expect them to turn out as well-rounded individuals. 

Source: The Telegraph | Children playing video games image via Shutterstock

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16 Comments

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But if kids were only allowed to play one hour a day, that would mean.......gasp......parents would actually have to parent! Like that would ever happen.

Don't worry my friend, they can always use the TV as a babysitter. Turn on one of the kids friendly channel and the kid will be distracted for hours and hours until it is time to sleep. So you see, parents won't have to parent.

red hook said,
Don't worry my friend, they can always use the TV as a babysitter. Turn on one of the kids friendly channel and the kid will be distracted for hours and hours until it is time to sleep. So you see, parents won't have to parent.

You, my friend, just told the truth about us. Bravo, Bravo! I think I might not watch those channels for all the shows that are bad there! All I will watch is the genuine stuff that is good!

Rohdekill said,
But if kids were only allowed to play one hour a day, that would mean.......gasp......parents would actually have to parent! Like that would ever happen.

Gaming has replaced going outside. When I was a kid I'd come home, drop off my school bag and go outside and play until dinner. Then homework. Then bed.
So I guess "Parenting" has always been a "go do something" kinda thing. ;-)

Seems fair to me. There's an obvious gain to be made in concentration, cognitive thinking and motor skills. Like everything in this world, it can be abused by over use.

This sounds idiotic to me as they're equating correlation with causation. Maybe the kids playing only 1 hour of video games were happier and better adjusted because they had other things in their lives. Maybe they were only playing 1 hour because everything was fine overall and they could do other stuff.

If the other kids had nothing else going on, their parents weren't home/paying attention to them, had no friends, were depressed or whatever, - maybe that's why the spent so much time playing games - cause they had nothing else going on and wanted to be distracted from feeling sad/depressed/anxious/whatever.

I think this is the key phrase:

Those who played video games for less than an hour... were associated with...

Based on that quote from the paper, I'd be inlined to believe that any suggestion of causation was added by the Telegraph article.

You're of course correct. The whole "kids with one hour to play games are most sociable" isn't because they play computer games, but because they socialize. It just so happens that kids who are highly social and friendly are the one's that will only have an hour in their kiddie schedule to play video games.

In the same vein, those with fewer (or no friends) will inevitably play more computer games. They don't become maladjusted because of computer games (although too much isolation could certainly exacerbate the problem), they're simply more likely to spend a lot of time on their computer because they were already struggling to acquire/maintain friends.

Kravex said,
I think the kid on the left is losing.

Actually, I believe he has encountered that old "I gotta poop but I'm winning" phase of his evening.