A new study by Oxford University shows that children who regularly play video games are happier and more adjusted if they play for an hour or less each day.
Fortunately, for children who like slightly longer sessions, the study didn't find any huge impact on children who play between one to three hours a day. Results did suggest, however, that anything over three hours could have more negative effects on children.
Researchers surveyed nearly 5,000 UK children, aged from 10 to 15 years old, and asked them questions about how much time they spent playing computer games, either on their computers or consoles. Researchers also asked them about their general satisfaction with life, if they suffered from issues like inattention and hyperactivity, what their empathy levels were like, and how well they got along with other children.
After researchers tabulated the data, the study showed that 75 percent of these children played games daily. Not only that, but those that spent more than three hours per day on games were not as satisfied with their lives and didn't get along as well with other children. Those who played frequently, but for less than an hour, were the most happy and satisfied of the group and reported less emotional problems.
Researchers believe that those children that spent more time playing games per day might be maladjusted because they're missing out on other activities that teach them socialization skills and enrich their lives.
The same might be said for children who spend a lot of time watching television, as well, especially considering a recent study that suggests that adults who watch TV after stressful work days feel worse when they indulge in that activity.
"These results support recent laboratory-based experiments that have identified the downsides to playing electronic games," says Dr. Andrew Pryzbylski, the study's author. "However, high levels of video game-playing appear to be only weakly linked to children's behavioural problems in the real world."
The study also suggests that the small effects for limited amounts of game time probably aren't solely responsible for better-adjusted children. Those children are more likely spending time socializing with friends and doing other activities.
Pryzbylski stressed that more research is necessary, particularly looking at how certain kinds of games positively or negatively impact children, while also considering how a child's environment, when paired with video gaming, affects young people.
The main suggestion of this study is that video gaming is a lot like everything in life: moderation is key.