Decade-long study claims video games don't affect children

By on November 18, 2013, 10:30 AM
xbox, playstation, gaming, video games, pc, gaming console, video game violence, video game study

Ever since children began picking up controllers, there has been a debate on whether or not video games are affecting their developing minds in a negative way. Video games have been blamed in the past for child and teen violence, and have even come under scrutiny by the United States government. But a recent study, which was published back in March 2013, tells a much different story about how children interact with games. 

These findings were originally published in the British Medical Journal and were part of the UK Millennium Cohort Study, a decade-long test that sought to discover how children were psychologically affected by screen-based entertainment. The program brought in over 11,000 children from the UK to participate in the study, and subjected them to different forms of entertainment including video games and television. 

Analysis showed that video games, when presented to children as young five, had absolutely no effect on the child's attention, behavior, or emotional issues. Televison, however, did affect some participants, specifically children between the ages of five and seven. The study saw a small increase in behavioral problems for young children exposed to television for more than three hours a day. It is also important to understand that a much lower amount of children spent the same time playing games as they did watching TV. 

This study helps to validate something that many individuals and analysts have already been saying, video games do not harm children. In fact, there have been many other studies to suggest that video games actually help improve hand-eye coordination, memory formation, and can even even help dyslexic children to read better. This may not put an end to the debate, and I am sure this isn't the last we have heard pertaining to the video game violence argument, but it definitely helps to shed more light on the matter.




User Comments: 14

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3 people like this | NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

I see it more used as a convenient excuse for lack of personal responsibility

1 person liked this | TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Broken people aren't broken because of video games. I hate it when I read about some sicko mass murderer and the media comes out with a big, "OMG - he played Call of Duty! THAT'S what made him want to kill people!" Glad to see this study come out and also laughing at the added research that TV can negatively impact kids behavior, but video games don't.

1 person liked this | Guest said:
3 people like this | MilwaukeeMike said:

I see it more used as a convenient excuse for lack of personal responsibility

Excuse, yes. but also for another reason. If you are not responsible for your actions, then that means something else is. If that something else can then be blamed, then we can control the source of the problem via regulation. For example: Soda in large cups is now forbidden in NY. This is because the soda is blamed for obesity, and not the person without self control. Politicians love this situation because they can feel important by passing a law and then get on TV and tell us what a great job they're doing protecting us.

MilwaukeeMike said:

I have a 5 year old and agree completely with this study. Her behavior does go downhill when she watches too much TV, but when using her LeapPad (which is educational video games) it doesn't. So long as her mind is stimulated she doesn't get whiny. Kids are built to be learning constantly and the vast majority of TV isn't adequate at making their brains work enough. Video games aren't great for it, and definitely can't replace a good old fashioned science experiment, but they're better than TV in many cases.

wiyosaya said:

This study will not prevent video games from being blamed in the future for the actions of aberrant children. This is the latest in a series of studies that state this, and perhaps it is the most conclusive since it's sample set is relatively large at 11,000 kids; however, each of the studies in the past has been ignored when a VG playing child went bad. Like MilwaukeeMike said, there will be some politician trying to score points by blaming video games the next time some child goes bad.

And I agree, it is not the Soda, it is the consumer who is addicted to Soda.

It is worth noting that the NY State Supreme Court has barred the law from being put into practice, with Mayor Bloomberg planning an appeal. Now that Bloomberg was voted out, we will have to see whether the new mayor will still appeal. [link]

Prosercunus said:

Harm of video games on someone is more based on that person being attracted to a particular outlet based on already existing mental deficits. It has nothing to do with anything inherent in the media itself.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

No matter what studies claim or find, video games are always gonna be used as an excuse for violence because it's a convenient scapegoat. Not everyone plays video games but everyone (who are fortunate enough to own one) watches TV

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It is all BS! People are effected by anything and everything they come in contact with. The question is how small or how big an effect.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

And you see your comment on this article as?

Fact is, games are everywhere. It's better to know that there's a positive affect on children, then have people like you sit there in spite and try to belittle video games as if they're mutilating the minds of our children. No one ever stops to think about what type of games the child is playing, and what type of parent is allowing the inappropriate games to be purchased, let alone played.

How am I belittling video games? All I mentioned was that it direction attention away from other things. I said nothing remotely bad about games. I even mentioned on the last article about effects video games have on children, that they are very good at improving hand eye coordination. You confuse me >_>

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

If you play games to an extreme excess (9hours a day?+) then they will negatively effect you.

1 person liked this | ikesmasher said:

They failed to mention what type of video games were used. Super mario 64 will have less of a negative impact on an 8 year old then Call of Duty will, as is fairly obvious these days.

Renrew Renrew said:

I believe ikesmasher has hit the nail on the head, the rating of video games has a lot to do with affecting children's behaviour. How many of us really take the ratings to heart and prevent our younger children from trying out our M and teen rated games. I venture to say the same percentage that blocks R rated TV programs, not very many.

1 person liked this | GunsAblazin said:

I see it more used as a convenient excuse for lack of personal responsibility

Excuse, yes. but also for another reason. If you are not responsible for your actions, then that means something else is. If that something else can then be blamed, then we can control the source of the problem via regulation. For example: Soda in large cups is now forbidden in NY. This is because the soda is blamed for obesity, and not the person without self control. Politicians love this situation because they can feel important by passing a law and then get on TV and tell us what a great job they're doing protecting us.

That law was struck down for being unconstitutional.

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