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Video games can help kids, but three hours a day can be a bad thing

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Go ahead and let your child play an hour of an electronic game as it can lead to a better-adjusted child, according to a new Oxford University study.

A research team claims young children who play electronic games for an hour or less each day tend to be more social and happier with their lives.

But more than an hour may lead to just the opposite result, notes the study released by the Oxford Internet Institute.

"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 behavioral 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," said the study's lead author Dr. Andrew Przybylski, a psychologist and research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, which is devoted to studying the Internet's impact on society.

"Some of the positive effects identified in past gaming research were mirrored in these data but the effects were quite small, suggesting that any benefits may be limited to a narrow range of action games," he added.

The study focused on children ages 10 to 15 who played electronic games, but did not include computer or console-based games, which include the popular Wii or PlayStation.

"The overall influence of daily video game play appears quite small on the population level," said Przybylski, a psychologist and research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute in Oxford, England.

The research team analyzed data from nearly 5,000 children who provided insight on gaming habits and family and social life. The children were also given screening tests to measure psychosocial adjustment.

The findings are published online Aug. 4 in the journal Pediatrics.

As Tech Times recently reported, the concern about addiction to video and electronic game playing has been a top news topics over the years given the popularity of console games and computer-based games.

One recent report claims Britain is "in the grip of a gaming addiction which poses as big a health risk as alcohol and drug abuse." That report was based on information from a UK clinic that claims it receives 5,000 video game addiction related calls in a year.

But Dr. Mark Griffiths, a professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University, said the report was not accurate and added there is no evidence the UK is in such an addiction state.

"Yes, we have various studies showing a small minority have problematic gaming. But problematic gaming doesn't necessarily mean gaming addiction. They're two very separate things. Yet the media seem to put them as the same."

His comments in that report actually contradict the latest research by Oxford.

"Most kids can afford to play three hours a day without it impacting on their education, their physical education and their social networks," Griffiths says. "Yes, I believe video game addiction exists, and if it is a genuine addiction it may well be as addictive as other, more traditional things in terms of signs, symptoms and components. But the good news is it is a very tiny minority who are genuinely addicted to video games."

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