Researchers found that playing video games does affect your behavior, but the effects differ greatly depending on how long you play.
During the study, researchers at the University of Oxford watched how playing video games for different amounts of time affected the social and academic behaviors of children. Their findings are published in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture journal.
Apparently playing video games for more than three hours a day made the kids more likely to be hyperactive, get into fights, and become less interested in school.
Interestingly, they said these factors didn’t seem to change much with the types of video games the kids were playing. So kids who played violent games didn’t seem to be any more violent or less attentive than the kids playing non-violent games.
They also found that playing video games for less than an hour a day may actually have some benefits.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Andy Przybylski, from Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute, acknowledged the findings aren’t definite.
He said in a press release, “A range of other factors in a child’s life will influence their behavior more as this research suggests that playing electronic games may be a statistically significant but minor factor in how children progress academically or in their emotional wellbeing.”
But the study does have some key takeaways. Some parents might think strategy or puzzzle games will help kids boost their grades. If the study is correct, the kids may actually be better off playing more competitive games (although co-op seems the way to go).
“Children who played video games with a cooperative and competitive element had significantly fewer emotional problems or problems with peers,” the press release says. “Children who chose to play solitary games were found to do well academically and displayed fewer emotional problems or get involved in fights.”
The study was conducted on individual students, aged 12 to 13, at a school in southeast England. The kids told the researchers how often and how long they play games, as well as the types of games. Assessments of each student’s behavior came from the teachers.
Co-author of the report, Allison Mishkin, said in the release, “these results highlight that playing video games may just be another style of play that children engage with in the digital age, with the benefits felt from the act of playing rather than the medium itself being the significant factor.”