Playing video games can be good for kids, as long as they don't spend too much time with them. A new Oxford University study suggests that gaming for less than an hour a day is associated with better-adjusted children and teens.
The researchers asked nearly 5,000 British youngsters between 10 and 15 how much time they spent playing video games, how satisfied they were with their lives and how they got along with their friends and classmates.
They found that those who spent less than one-third of their free time with electronic games had the highest levels of sociability and satisfaction, compared to those who didn't play games at all and those who spent three hours or more a day playing games.
But overall, the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, suggests that the influence of video games - for good or ill - pales in comparison to other factors, such as family dynamics, friendships and poverty.
However, another study, by researchers at Dartmouth College, finds that teens who play violent, risk-glorifying video games are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. Previous studies have linked these games to increased adolescent aggressiveness.
This study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is the first to identify effects beyond aggression, to substance abuse, risky driving and unsafe sexual behavior.
Over the course of four years, the researchers asked more than 5,000 American teens a series of questions about their experiences with character-based games with anti-social protagonists, including Grand Theft Auto, and other mature-rated games. They found that playing these games appeared to affect how the teens thought of themselves, making them more rebellious and thrill-seeking.
Financial analysts estimate the worldwide electronic game market will be worth more than $100-billion by 2017.