Playing Video Games for Short Periods Benefits Children

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By Sarah Thomas | August 5, 2014 3:23 PM EST

Playing video games for an hour or less made children and teenagers better adjusted, found a study conducted by Oxford University. Youngsters who played the video games were associated with being better adjusted than those who never played or those who indulged in the game for three or more hours. No positive or negative effects were found in children who played the game for one to three hours in a day.

Reuters
A man plays a video game on Sony Corp's PlayStation 4 console at its showroom in Tokyo July 16, 2014. Japan's Sony Corp is hammering out plans to rise from the ashes of nearly $10 billion lost in six years by building a future around its last consumer electronics blockbuster - the PlayStation. Sony plans to reposition the video console warhorse as a hub for a network of streamed services, according to three senior officials, offering social media, movies and music as well as games. The executives spoke to Reuters on condition they not be named because the matters are still in early stages of discussion. Picture taken July 16, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino (JAPAN - Tags: BUSINESS)

The positive or negative effects of this on children, is very small when compared to other factors like their relationship at school, whether they come from a broken and deprived family, suggested the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Nearly 5,000 youngsters, children and teenagers, both male and female, from households in UK were examined for the positive and negative effects of gaming. Children between the ages 10-15 year's were asked the amount of time they spent on gaming console and computer games. They also answered questions pertaining to their satisfaction in life, the span of inattention and hyperactivity, the sympathy they felt for others and how well they got on with their peers.

The study found that three in four children and teenagers in the UK played video games on a daily basis, and those who spent half their free time gaming were not well adjusted. This could be because children are exposed to inappropriate content designed for adults and they miss out on other activities that could enriches their lives. However, when compared to children who did not play and those who did, the ones who played electronic games for less than an hour; being less than one third of their daily free time, were very satisfied in their lives and highly social.

Study author Dr Andrew Przybylski from the Oxford Internet Institute said, "These results support recent laboratory-based experiments that have identified the downsides to playing electronic games. However, high levels of video game-playing appear to be only weakly linked to children's behavioural problems in the real world. Likewise, the small, positive effects we observed for low levels of play on electronic games do not support the idea that video games on their own can help children develop in an increasingly digital world."

In the past, time limits were recommended for children playing video games based on the research of non-interactive forms of entertainment, but the study argues that this has little scientific base and the negative and positive effects of gaming depends on the structure of the game and the incentives offered to the players. Previous research suggests that half of the children in the UK played for less than an hour, while one third played for one to three hours, and 10 to 15 percent spent three or more than half of their free time gaming.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
A man plays a video game on Sony Corp's PlayStation 4 console at its showroom in Tokyo July 16, 2014. Japan's Sony Corp is hammering out plans to rise from the ashes of nearly $10 billion lost in six years by building a future around its last consumer electronics blockbuster - the PlayStation. Sony plans to reposition the video console warhorse as a hub for a network of streamed services, according to three senior officials, offering social media, movies and music as well as games. The executives spoke to Reuters on condition they not be named because the matters are still in early stages of discussion. Picture taken July 16, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino (JAPAN - Tags: BUSINESS)
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