Playing games is not associated with social development in children, research says (Getty Images)A team of researchers from Norway has added more scientific weight to the argument that video games are perfectly fine for young children.
They looked at a group of game-playing children over the course of 12 years and found that, generally speaking, gaming was not associated with social development.
The research was a combined effort from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), NTNU Social Research, the University of California, Davis, and St. Olav’s Hospital in Norway. Together they monitored 873 Norwegian youngsters from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds. They checked in with the kids every two years over the course of six years as the children grew from 6 to 12.
They found that for boys, there was no effect on their social development although they did note that girls who spent more time playing video games at age 10 developed weaker social skills two years later than girls who spent less time playing games.
But the results don’t support claims in the media and other areas of scientific study that gaming causes negative effects like aggression, anxiety, and depression.
The researchers think a lack of social competence may drive children to play games more (Getty Images/Image Source)‘Our study may mitigate some concerns about the adverse effects of gaming on children’s development,’ said Beate Wold Hygen, a postdoctoral fellow at the NTNU and NTNU Social Research, who led the study.
‘It might not be gaming itself that warrants our attention, but the reasons some children and adolescents spend a lot of their spare time playing the games.’
What the team did find is that children who struggled socially at ages 8 and 10 were more likely to spend more time playing video games at ages 10 and 12.
Gaming is more popular now that at any other time (Getty)‘It might be that poor social competence drives youth’s tendency to play video games for extensive periods of time,’ suggested Lars Wichstrøm, professor of psychology at NTNU, who co-authored the study.
‘That is, youth who struggle socially might be more inclined to play games to fulfill their need to belong and their desire for mastery because gaming is easily accessible and may be less complicated for them than face-to-face interactions.’
The research has been published in Child Development, a journal of the Society for Research in Child Development.