Higher life satisfaction and prosocial behavior achieved under just 60 minutes
The rise of electronic games has driven both concerns and hopes regarding their potential to influence young people. Current research has established a series of isolated positive and negative effects however, there has been no research to date that has examined the balance of these potential effects in children and adolescents.
Dr. Andrew Przybylski, PhD, research fellow at the Oxford internet Institute examined how time spent playing electronic games accounts for significant variation in positive and negative psychosocial adjustment by using a large representative sample of children and adolescents aged 10 to 15 years.
The sample involved almost 5,000 youth half male and female taken from a nationally representative study of UK households. Participants were asked in a typical day how many hours did they play electronic games and were also asked how satisfied they were with their life, their level of hyperactivity and inattention empathy and how they got along with their peers.
The results suggested three in four of the children and teens play video games daily Low levels (under one hour daily) and high levels (over three hours a day) were linked to psychosocial adjustment.
Children who played less than one hour daily of video games was linked with higher life satisfaction, prosocial behavior (positive actions that benefit others, prompted by empathy, moral values, and a sense of personal responsibility) and lower externalizing and internalizing behavior. High levels of play had the opposite effects. No effects were seen for moderate play levels compared to non-players.
Dr. Przyski commented '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.”
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. Further research needs to be carried out to look closely at the specific attributes of games that make them beneficial or harmful. It will also be important to identify how social environments such as family, peers, and the community shape how gaming experiences influence young people, “he said.
Dr. Przysiki’s paper titled 'Electronic gaming and psychosocial adjustment', is published in the journal Pediatrics.