A new study by researchers from Columbia University and Paris Descartes University has concluded that playing video games helps boost the academic and psychological development of children.
Around 20 percent of the children surveyed played video games for five hours or more per week and had fewer psychological problems and better overall academic performance than kids who did not play video games. The teachers of the game players described them as better students in terms of both academic success and social adjustment.
The report was conducted as part of the School Children Mental Health Europe project and analysed video game usage, school performance, and the behaviour of over 3,000 European children aged six to 11. Observations and data were also collected from teachers and parents to help contextualise the report.
“I think what we’re seeing here is the evolution of gaming modern society. Video games are now a part of a normal childhood,” Katherine Keyes, one of the authors of the study, informed U.S. News. “What we’re seeing here is that kids who play a lot of video games are socially integrated, they’re prosocial, they have good school functioning and we don’t see an association with adverse mental health outcomes.”
However, the research relied on the observations of parents in determining exactly how many hours each week their children spent gaming. Fewer than 10 percent of parents said their kids played more than five hours week or 43 minutes per day. The type of games being played was also omitted from the report, though given the young ages involved there probably isn’t too much violent content.
“I want to be sure that we’re not suggesting in this study that parents should let kids play unlimited video games because it’s good for their mental health,” Keyes added. “That’s not what we’re saying.”
Not enough children who play for more than 10 or 20 hours per week were included in the study to reach a clear conclusion on what effects they might be experiencing.
The full research paper is available to read on the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology journal.
Image credit: The ESA