The stereotype of videogamers as isolated, socially awkward losers hiding out their basements is wrong, says a new study. Using psychological and game-playing data derived from more than 3,000 European kids between the ages of 6 and 11 years, a team of psychologists led by Viviane Kovess-Masfety from Paris Descartes University, reports that playing video games is associated with lots of positive cognitive and mental health outcomes. In fact, more video game play was generally associated with better outcomes. The article, "Is time spent playing video games associated with mental health, cognitive and social skills in young children?," is published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.
From the study:
In a sample of over 3000 young children across six European countries, high video game usage (playing video games more than 5 h per week) was significantly associated with higher intellectual functioning, increased academic achievement, a lower prevalence of peer relationship problems and a lower prevalence of mental health difficulties. High video game usage was not associated with an increase of conduct disorder or any externalizing disorder nor was it associated with suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death. Controlling for demographic and other risk factors explained part of the association between video game use and protective associations in mental health and cognitive function, nevertheless all these relations particularly cognitive functioning persisted despite control….
The results of the present study suggest that video game use is not associated with an increased risk of mental health problems. On the contrary, the data presented here suggest that video games are a protective factor, especially regarding peer relationship problems for the children who are the most involved in video games. Finally, video games seem to be linked to better intellectual functioning and academic achievement.
According to our data, video gaming is entirely beneficial for cognitive functioning as well as for some aspects of mental health.
The researchers do acknowledge that they did not look into what happens when gamers become adolescents. Still, play on kids!