The latest evidence on video gaming & children

video-gameVideo games are commonly believed to make children who play them more aggressive, irritable and unable to concentrate.

However, a recent review of the evidence by Paul Howard-Jones at Bristol University found this not to be the case.

The key messages from the research shows:

  • Since the mid-1990s, children have become less violent – fewer children are convicted of assaults every year, even though video games have become more violent.
  • Video gaming can bring older children some advantages including stress relief, social benefits (having something in common with their peers, giving them a common language for conversation) and some cognitive benefits (developing visual skills)
  • However, this is for low amounts of gaming a day. All the research studies were based on subjects who were gaming for less than 2 hours a day
  • For those that are gaming for more than 3 hours a day, there is a small increase in the likelihood of getting in to fights and being hyperactive. Although the research stresses that factors such as poverty, drug use and parental abuse were much more influential.
  • Screen time can disrupt sleep and learning, so it’s advisable to set times and limits for your child.

So the message is – video gaming is OK for kids, but like anything, keep it in moderation. If your child is gaming to the exclusion of everything else, then that can become problematic.

But if gaming is part of a wider range of interests and activities, and screen time is limited to 2 hours for entertainment and isn’t right before bedtime, there doesn’t appear to be a problem.

(research taken from All in the Mind, BBC Radio 4, broadcast 22nd April 2015)


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