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Playing video games for less than an hour a day may have a positive impact on child development

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A study by Oxford University suggests that playing video games for a short period each day could have a small but positive impact on child development.

Scientists found young people who spent less than an hour a day engaged in video games were better adjusted than those who did not play at all.

However, children who used consoles for more than three hours reported lower satisfaction with their lives overall.

The research is published in the journal Pediatrics.


Experimental psychologist Dr. Andrew Przybylski analyzed British surveys involving 5,000 young people aged 10 to 15 years old.

Some 75% of those questioned said they played video games daily.

Children were asked to quantify how much time they spent gaming on a typical school day – using consoles or computers.

Playing video games for a short period each day could have a small but positive impact on child development

Playing video games for a short period each day could have a small but positive impact on child development (photo Getty Images)

They then rated a number of factors, including:

  • Satisfaction with their lives
  • How well they got on with peers
  • How likely they were to help people in difficulty
  • Levels of hyperactivity and inattention

The answers were combined to assess levels of psychological and social adjustment.

When compared with all other groups, including those who played no video games at all, young people reporting under an hour of play each day were most likely to say they were satisfied with their lives and showed the highest levels of positive social interactions.

The group also had fewer problems with emotional issues and lower levels of hyperactivity.

According to the results, people who spent more than three hours playing games were the least well adjusted.

Dr. Andrew Przybylski points out that though the effect of video games on children is statistically significant in this study, factors such as the strength of family relationships play a larger role.