A recently released University of Glasgow study that takes the data from a survey of 11,000 children (or rather, their parents) born between 2000 and 2002 comes to the conclusion that playing video games – even at a young age – does not lead to behavioral problems.
The University of Glasgow study surveyed mothers in a major millennial survey to track behavior over time. This allowed researchers to track and draw a connection between screen time and behavioral or emotional troubles later.
The authors of the study aimed to examine both television and video games screen time, in the hopes of finding connections with attention disorders, anger issues, and other problems that might be connected to both. Researchers wondered aloud if "games may have more powerful effects due to active user engagement, identification with characters and repeated rehearsal and reinforcement."
But their research went in another direction. They learned that exposure to video games had no effect on behavior, attention or emotional issues, and that watching three or more hours of television starting at age 5 did lead to a small increase in behavioral problems in youngsters between 5 and 7. Television and video games did not lead to attentional or emotional problems and there seemed to be no difference between boys and girls in the survey results.
The survey relied heavily on parents reporting average screen time and later behavioral problems, but the size of the research pool – more than 13,000 families – left researchers confident their results were solid. Researchers also said they modified the results to "take into account various parenting approaches and socio-economic differences."
This is one of the first real studies to examine games in connection with television viewing while also assessing them separately.
You can check out the research for yourselves here (PDF).
No doubt researchers in the United States who are keen to make a connection between bad behavior in children and time spent watching TV or gaming, will attempt to nitpick this study…
Thanks to Andrew Eisen for the tip.
Source: Games and Learning