Another day, another study demonizing the role of video games in a child's life. But wait! This latest study isn't demonizing video games at all. In fact, this study found that video games — when played in moderation — are good for kids.
The new study, published today in the journal Pediatrics, found that when compared with kids who didn't play video games at all, those who did for a few hours each week were better adjusted, more compassionate, and had fewer conduct problems than their peers.
How much is too much or too little when it comes to gaming? The ideal amount seemed to be an hour or less per day. Kids who played for one to three hours each day saw no positive benefit in their behavior. While kids who played for more than that tipped the scale in the other direction and were more likely to have problems with hyperactivity and inattention and to report an overall diminished satisfaction with life.
Lead researcher Andrew Przybylski, an experimental psychologist and a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University, hopes the news will be reassuring to parents who worry that any amount of video gaming will be harmful to their kids.
Of course, the study does have its drawbacks. For starters, researchers didn't differentiate between playing say Grand Theft Auto or playing a LeapFrog Leapster. And it goes without saying that there is a huge difference between a game that encourages users to kill cops and one that encourages them to rescue animals from the shelter.
So it's not a free pass for kids to play any game they want within the hour time slot. Parents still need to supervise games and even play along to get a better idea of what is involved.
But it should let parents breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that a little downtime via a well-chosen video game could be fun — and beneficial — for everyone.
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