Video Games Aren't Harmful to Most Teens, Study Shows

Filed under: In The News, Video Games, Research Reveals: Teens

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Video games -- not bad after all? Credit: Getty Images

"Mom, I told you so," could be a resounding cry this week following the news that video games are not harmful to most teens.

The findings of a Yale University study published in Pediatrics show that most teens who play video games don't automatically fall into unhealthy behaviors. Only a small fraction -- 4.9 percent -- show signs of addictive behaviors, HealthDay News reports.

But that minority of high school students may be more likely to smoke, use drugs or become depressed after playing video games, the Yale University study suggests, HealthDay says.

The researchers set out to discover if video game playing negatively impacts youth. They discovered that gaming does not necessarily cause aggression or have ill health effects, according to Pediatrics.

The researchers surveyed 4,028 teens, with 51.2 percent reporting they play video games (76.3 percent of boys and 29.2 percent of girls). Of those teens, only 4.9 percent reported "problematic gaming," defined as having three main symptoms: trying and failing to cut back on play, feeling an irresistible urge to play and experiencing tension that only play could relieve, HealthDay reports.

"The study suggests that, in and of itself, gaming does not appear to be dangerous to kids," study author Rani Desai, an associate professor of psychiatry and public health at the Yale University School of Medicine, tells HealthDay. "We found virtually no association between gaming and negative health behaviors, particularly in boys."

"However, a small but not insignificant proportion of kids find themselves unable to control their gaming," she tells HealthDay. "That's cause for concern because that inability is associated with a lot of other problem behaviors."

Among boys, gaming itself wasn't associated with unhealthy behaviors. In fact, boys who played video games typically reported a higher grade average, were significantly less likely to smoke and were more likely to say they'd never used alcohol or marijuana, the study found, according to HealthDay.

Desai tells the site the fact that gaming in boys was linked to healthier behaviors may mean that, for boys, it's normal to play video games.

Girl gamers, however, were more likely than girls who didn't play video games to get into serious fights or carry a weapon to school, Desai tells HealthDay.

"This finding may suggest not that gaming leads to aggression, but that more aggressive girls are attracted to gaming," she adds.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.