While the negative effects of excessive video gaming have been widely reported, a new research has found that playing video games is associated with high overall school competence and less relationship problems with peers.
For the study involving over 3,000 children between ages six and eleven, the researchers assessed the association between the amount of time spent playing video games and children’s mental health and cognitive and social skills.
“Video game playing is often a collaborative leisure time activity for school-aged children. These results indicate that children who frequently play video games may be socially cohesive with peers and integrated into the school community,” said one of the researchers Katherine Keyes, assistant professor at Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, US.
“We caution against over interpretation, however, as setting limits on screen usage remains an important component of parental responsibility as an overall strategy for student success,” Keyes noted.
The results were published online in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.
Results were based on data from the School Children Mental Health Europe project for children aged 6-11.
Based on parent reporting, one in five children played video games more than five hours per week.
Parents and teachers assessed their child’s mental health in a questionnaire and the children themselves responded to questions through an interactive tool. Teachers evaluated academic success.
After adjusting for child age, gender, and number of children, the researchers found that high video game usage was associated with 1.75 times the odds of high intellectual functioning and 1.88 times the odds of high overall school competence.
There were no significant associations with any child self-reported or mother- or teacher-reported mental health problems.
The researchers also found that more video game playing was associated with less relationship problems with their peers.