Youth Study: Games Good for Mental Health, Bad for Academics

A study of 626 Honk Kong Chinese students, who averaged about 10 years old, indicated that while playing massively multiplayer online games appears to contribute to a kid’s psychological well-being, overall time spent playing computer games had a negative correlation with their academic performance.

Dr. Angel Nga-man Leung and Prof. Catherine McBride (pictured) from the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of Psychology carried out the study (PDF), which indicated that students spent 67 minutes per day, on average, playing MMOs, 44 minutes on solitary computer games, 44 minutes per day using handheld games and 31 minutes a day playing home video consoles. In gender specific results, boys played more minutes per day in each category when compared to their female counterparts.

The students were also asked to compare their real-life friends against friends from their online games. The results caused the researchers to declare:

Despite the fact that friendship quality in MMOGs is less comparable to the one in real life, the more online friendship a child reported experiencing in the MMOG context, the better the child’s psychological well-being was (social competence, life satisfaction, friendship satisfaction and self esteem).

English was the subject that suffered the most when kids spent too much time gaming, followed by Chinese and math, then social studies.

The researchers concluded that “online game playing is likely multifaceted in its effects,” and encouraged parents to limit the time their kids spend playing games.

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