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Video games could be good, in moderation

Published Aug 6, 2014 | Updated Feb 19, 2020

Kids who spend a little time playing video games each day might be more well-adjusted than those who never play, a new study suggests. What's the right amount? Read to find out.

Children who play video games or computer games for one hour or less per day, are found to be the most well-adjusted, sociable, happy, and least hyperactive. This was the finding of a study from Oxford University published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday, August 4th.

There has been a long and controversial discussion around the rise of video games and its effect on our developing children, and although there has been many theories on its influence on young minds, very little research had been done to date. The study tested almost 5,000 children in the UK ages 10-15 and compared those who did not play at all, with those who spent varying periods of time playing video games or computer games.

“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.” 

Playing excessively, however, had an opposite effect. It was found that children who played 3 hours per day or more were moody, unhappy with their life, and more likely to act out in negative ways. 

Interestingly, those who played moderately (between 1 and 3 hours per day) had no observable effects to their mood when compared with non-players.

It's important to note that lead researcher Andrew Przybylski also concluded that parents should not expect video games to have too much sway over their child's emotional growth. Time spent playing video games had a maximum 1.6 overlap with a kid's social development.

"There's no doubt that there's a statistically significant link, but the effect is so small that researchers should question whether this relationship is practically significant" Przybylski said. Other factors have a far greater significance on behaviour, such as school relationships, family life, and whether they are materially deprived. It appears then, that the fears of video games may have been exaggerated.

What is the reason behind the positive impacts that came from a minimum amount of gaming? The answer may be more simple than we expect- the kids are having fun!

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Comments (1)

January 6, 2015, 1:42 p.m. Flag

This was an interesting article to read! My son is not old enough to play video games yet, but I grew up playing video games. My parents were careful to limit how long my brother and I played and always made sure we spent plenty of time outside. I certainly don't feel like it had an undesirable effect. I think, like Joelle said, that the important thing is moderation.


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