Video Games

Science Supports Using Video Games as a Babysitter*

Latest extensive study in the United Kingdom shows no relationship between kids playing games and causing problems


And it might save money on driving lessons. Think about it!
Credit: Gamesingear

The latest research into the impact of video games on children's minds comes from studying the behavior of more than 11,000 children between the ages of 5 and 7 across the United Kingdom. That's a pretty big pool. Their conclusion: No correlation between playing video games and any sort of conduct problems whatsoever. The study also focused on television viewing and determined that kids who watch lots of television but don't play video games were more likely to have conduct problems than those who do play video games.

The study from the University of Glasgow is available here (pdf) and is a fairly easy read. As with any mass study like this, there are some gaps. Because of the voluntary scope of participation, the sampling isn't fully representative and depended on the accuracy of information reported by the children's mothers. They separated children by gender and by how much time they spent each day playing video games or watching television. They evaluated the "psychosocial adjustment" of participants in several categories to determine emotional or conduct problems after they reached 7 years. They really did not find that much, but they did note: "Children playing no games were more likely to show increased problems (except peer problems) compared with playing [less than one hour] daily." The only statistically significant association they discovered was among children who watched three or more hours of television a day. They showed more conduct problems, but even then the number was low. And they didn't notice any difference based on gender.

Still though, the total gaming exposure of these young kids is pretty low – less than four percent reported playing video games for more than three hours per weekday. The game panic these days is focused on teens who go on marathon Call of Duty binges for hours on end. I don't see this study taking the wind out of that argument, but it could come a as a relief to parents who feel judged by those media nannies suggesting that their little loved ones are being turned into monsters by their Nintendo Wii.

* No, of course it doesn't.

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27 responses to “Science Supports Using Video Games as a Babysitter*

  1. * No, of course it doesn’t.

    Well played.

  2. Just what we need: Italian, psychedelic mushroom taking, plumber babysitters.

  3. My anecdotal experience says that outsourcing my babysitting duties to my video games results in equal pay, but more free time.

  4. It is hard to imagine finding an actual causal link between video games and any kind of behavior problems.

    However within the social science “rat’s nest of confounded variables” there will no doubt be many correlative links between video games and all sorts of behavior issues.

    And each time one is published the media will shriek “Link!! Link!!”

    Nice to see a sane article on the subject.

  5. Finally a definitive study that settles this petty kulturkampf squabble until the next definitive study proves exactly the opposite.

    1. Hey, bub, for $2 million, I can get you a study that says whatever you want it to say. No, no, it’s all legit–it’s “science.”

    2. I don’t think I like what you’re implying there Hugh.

      What’s next salt is good for me? Wait it already is…then bad for me?

      1. Salt is good for you, but only on lots of eggs and potatoes. That’s whole eggs, not egg white bullshit.

        1. Hey, hyponacemia is no joke.

          1. neither is hypochloremia…bad ways to go man.

          2. poor spelling is also a bad way to go.

          3. This man shouldn’t be dead. I can’t find anything wrong with him. According to all the tests, he should get up and just walk away from here.

        2. Egg whites…that takes me back. J.I.MB Agri-Corp long since bred our hens to lay 100% yolk eggs. No more will consumers be hampered in their quest for delicious cholesterol by that disgusting albumin soup.

          1. I would love some all yolk eggs.

          2. There’s good stuff in the yolk, too. Totally eschewing the yolk may be. . .unwise.

            1. Backwards, you have the concept.

              1. Clearly Pro L has been eating inferior eggs not artisanally crafted in the cloaca of J.I.MB Agri-Corp’s hens. Whole yolk eggs are brain food, and this man’s brain is hungry.

                  1. Were you truly pro-yolk you’d be part of the J.I.MB Agri-Corp’s loyalty program* and our social media presence, but I have checked and you are conspicuously absent from out system. I am concerned, Pro L, that you’re not nearly as committed to quality white-free eggs as you present yourself.

                    *Including 1 gallon of J.I.MB Petro-State gas for every 100 whole-yolk eggs purchased!

  6. Why is it CoD is the go to game to bash? What about the good old Evercrack days? I spent hundreds or hours drinking beer and eating sour cream and chives chips while getting my ass kicked by giants and alligators…it still pisses me off.

    And where is WoW…only the largest MMO ever.

    1. Pssh. Does you EQ character have a walker, too, Gramps?

      1. I swear I will hunt you down and make you play MLP for that comment…and I gave up my WoW toon several years ago, see I have been keeping up with the times.

        1. I only know because my character died of old age.

      2. A free subscription to Second Life is in your inbox.

    2. Because CoD is the most successful of the FPS’s, plus the fact that they put out s new edition every year.

  7. They separated children by gender

    That’ll eliminate a lot of behavioral problems right there.

    The study from the University of Glasgow is available here and is a fairly easy read.

    Such encouragement would have been unnecessary before video games were invented.

    /just sayin’

  8. I know when I was a kid and my mom needed to run to the store (like 20 minute drive each way) she’d just put on star wars knowing full well that i’d be in exactly the same place when she got back; worked like a charm!

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