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Turns out videogames can benefit children (but only in short bursts)

Researchers from Oxford University found that playing videogames for up to an hour a day had a small but positive impact on children.

Image: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

IF YOU’RE WORRIED that videogames may be having a negative effect on your children, new research suggests that a little bit of gaming can be good for them.

Researchers from Oxford University found that children and teenagers who played videogames for up to an hour a day were better adjusted than those who did not play at all.

The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, said that these children “were associated with the highest levels of sociability and were most likely to say they were satisfied with their lives. They also appeared to have fewer friendships and emotional problems, and reported less hyperactivity than the other groups.”

Those who spent one to three hours playing videogames didn’t seem to experience any positive or negative effects. However, those who played videogames for more than three hours a day were found to have lower satisfaction with their lives.

The researchers said this could be down to them missing out on other activities and potentially exposing themselves to content designed for a more mature audience.

The study involved 5,000 young people, both boys and girls aged between 10 and 15, and asked them questions such at the amount of time spent playing videogames, how well they got along with peers, how likely they were to help people in difficulty and their levels of hyperactivity and inattention.

The study’s author, Dr. Andrew K. Przybylski, said that the correlation between behavioural problems and playing videogames for extended periods of time appeared to be “weakly linked” and that other factors such as the type of family a child has, their relationships in school and whether they are materially deprived had a more significant impact on their behaviour.

He concluded that further research would be necessary to find out which games were beneficial or harmful and said that recommended time limits for playing videogames had “little scientific basis”.

Read: Wondering what messaging apps teens are using? Here’s what you should look out for >

Read: Games and box-office movies help Sony post surprise profit >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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