Science Supports Using Video Games as a Babysitter*

And it might save money on driving lessons. Think about it!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
(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.

from Hit & Run

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