Playing video games is not healthy for teens and children, right? Not necessarily. A new study reveals that the amount of time a child spends playing video games is linked to small differences in their mental and social health. Some time spent playing video games can actually improve social and mental health. The effects of video games on young people, however, are linked to how much time your child spends playing them.
The study, authored by Andrew Przybylski, a psychologist at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Internet Institute, showed that children who played video games one hour or less per day scored higher on social and mental assessments than children who played no video games at all.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it gives a green light for parents to allow their children to play all the video games they want. “I think an appropriate amount of time to spend on video games would be no more than one hour a day and two hours on nonschool days,” says Larry Walker, PhD, a clinical psychologist with Renown Behavioral Health. “I do think this should be in combination of video games, watching television and surfing the internet.”
Parents can use this time to engage with their children. Video games can be a learning experience, parents should use this time to develop a healthy relationship with their children, have some subtle competition and constructive conversation. However, video games should not be the only source of entertainment for children.
“I am concerned that children are developing improved technical skills, but lacking team and social skills,” says Larry. “I think it is very important for children to be involved in team, social and physical activities as well.”
Video Game Time Tied to Kids’ Mental, Social Health
The amount of time children spend playing video games is linked to small differences in their mental and social health, according to a new study.
Compared to children who didn’t play any video games at all, kids who played for no more than an hour a day scored better on mental and social health assessments – while kids who played for three or more hours per day scored worse.
But the new research also found that time spent on video games might only influence a sliver of a child’s overall behavior.
“It is probably more important knowing how much (game play) is happening than controlling how much is happening,” said Andrew Przybylski, an experimental psychologist and research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Internet Institute in the UK.
For example, 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.
Past studies highlighted positive and negative effects of video games, but Przybylski writes in the journal Pediatrics that no study has looked at the balance of these effects among children.
For the new study, he analyzed data from about 5,000 UK boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 15. The children had reported how much time they spent playing video games and completed assessments of mental and social well-being.
There was no difference in scores between kids who played between one and three hours of video games and those who reported no video game play.
Children who reported playing less than an hour of video games per day tended to score better on their mental and social assessments than those who reported no video game play, Przybylski found.
Specifically, an hour or less of video game play each day was tied to higher life satisfaction scores, better social scores and less internalization and externalization of problems, compared to those who didn’t play video games.[…]
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