A new study has looked at the association between playing video games and young children’s mental health and cognitive and social skills.
Published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology,
the study used data from the School Children Mental Health Europe
project, conducted in six European countries (Germany, The Netherlands,
Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Turkey). More than 3,000 children aged
6-11 took part in the study in 2010. Parents were asked how long their
child played video games each week, provided demographic information,
and completed a Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ, a measure
of mental health status) for the child. Teachers also completed the SDQ
for each child, and evaluated the child’s academic performance and
motivation at school. Children completed Dominic Interactive, a
computerised assessment tool for mental health status.
Results showed that factors associated with video game usage included
being older, a boy, and belonging to a medium-sized family. Having a
less-educated, single, inactive, or psychologically distressed mother
decreased time spent playing video games. The results were adjusted for
child age and gender, number of children, mother’s age, marital status,
psychological distress, and other demographic characteristics. This
showed that high video game usage (more than five hours each week) was
significantly associated with higher intellectual functioning, increased
academic achievement, a lower prevalence of peer relationship problems,
and a lower prevalence of mental health difficulties.
Source: Is Time Spent Playing Video Games Associated with Mental Health, Cognitive and Social Skills in Young Children? (2016), Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.