A new study published by Oxford University researchers in JMIR Pediatrics and parentingshows that although many school-age teenagers are spending significant time playing video games, it is not having a negative impact on health.
The OxWell Student Survey is one of ‘s largest school surveys youth health and well-being in the UK. More than 12,000 middle school students (12-18 years old) participated in the latest survey in June-July 2021 and provided information on their level of gaming.
Nearly a third (31.2%) of students who responded to questions about their gaming said they spend at least 3.5 hours a day playing games on any electronic device (those who play games). ‘heavyweight’ players), but one in five (21.8%) reported not participating in any games. Research has identified different profiles of adolescents game over a longer period of time based on their psychological well-being, the amount of time they play games on different electronic devices, and the degree of control they have over their gaming behaviors.
They found that most ‘heavy’ gamers experienced no negative effects in relation to their health and 44% of ‘heavy’ players said they were in better health than those who played less games Or don’t play at all.
Lead author Dr Simona Skripkauskaite of Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry, said: “Our findings suggest that there is a shift in the way adolescents spend their leisure time. with a significant percentage choose to spend most of this time playing video games.It is reassuring to see that, for most, this is not related to concurrent health problems or mental illness. .”
“These findings suggest that, rather than worrying about how much time we spend playing video games, we should explore the opportunity to play video games as a potential tool to find more rational, creative ways to play video games. creating and less stigma to reach and help adolescents with emotional and behavioral difficulties.”
However, the study highlights that this is not the case for everyone. 1 in 12 teenagers who play ‘heavy’ games say they have lost control over health problems and gaming. They are more likely to be female and report playing games on their mobile phones. However, they were also more likely to report previous experiences of abuse or anxiety and aggressive behavior, suggesting that those with traumatic and mental health problems can turn to gaming as a coping mechanism.
Co-author Mina Fazel, Professor of Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry, said: “Our findings are similar to those found in the adult gaming population and highlight that the adults did not experience negative effects from gaming.However, there was an important subgroup of adolescents, who were more likely to show signs of problematic game use and poorer mental health, and these findings can help us better define these youth who are more likely to be women playing on their phones.”
Simona Skripkauskaite et al, Game Time, Device Type, Addiction Score and Health of British Adolescent Gamers in OxWell’s 2021 Survey: Latent Profile Analysis, JMIR Pediatrics and parenting (2022). DOI: 10.2196/41480
University of Oxford
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