Are video games really dangerous?

Study: Video games generally not harmful to young boys

Video games are often given the reputation of contributing to loneliness and not necessarily being conducive to social skills, especially among children. Researchers have now investigated this aspect in a longitudinal study. Scientists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), St. Olavs Hospital and the University of California included groups of six-year-old children from Norway in their study every two years and followed them for six years.

The total of 873 test subjects, girls and boys, had different social backgrounds. Factors such as the body mass index - since frequent gaming is often associated with weight gain - and the time spent with friends playing games were also taken into account, precisely with regard to social behavior. Playing on all platforms was taken into account: cell phones, tablets, consoles and PC.

Social behavior of young boys not affected

The results should dispel some concerns, summarizes Science Daily. According to the results, the consumption of video games had no adverse effects on the social development of the 6 to 12 year old boys.

There are also two individual observations. Girls who played more frequently by the age of ten showed weaker social skills than their peers by the age of 12. And children who were having a harder time socially between the ages of 8 and 10 tended to spend more time playing games than 12-year-olds.

Researchers recommend looking at causes of excessive gambling

The researchers point out possible inaccuracies, since one had to rely on information from the test subjects or their parents for the recorded playing times. But they also suggest that one should look more closely at the reasons why some children start to gamble excessively. "It could be that poor social skills tend to lead young people to spend a lot of time playing games," says Lars Wichstrom, a co-author of the study.

The study was funded by the Norwegian Research Council and a research committee from NTNU and the Central Norway Health Authority. The work was published in the journal Child Development. (red, 04/25/2019)