Playing video games may not necessarily impair children's social skills, and a new study suggests that any behavioral effect that frequent gaming might have may occur only in pre-teen girls. The rising popularity of video games in recent years has raised questions among parents, doctors and educators about the potential for gaming to negatively impact children's psychological and social development, researchers note in Child Development.
But much of this research has focused on kids who spend too much time gaming or favor violent games. For the current study, researchers followed Norwegian school children for six years, starting when they were 6 years old. Every two years, parents or kids reported how much time children spent gaming; teachers also evaluated the "social competence" of the kids, based on how well they followed directions, controlled their behavior and exhibited confidence in social settings.
After researchers accounted for factors that can independently influence social skills - like being overweight or obese, or coming from a low-income household where parents have less education - they didn't find any connection between time spent gaming and social skills for boys. However, for both boys and girls, poor social competence at ages 8 and 10 predicted more time spent gaming two years later. And for girls only, the reverse was also true: girls who spent more time gaming at age 10 showed poorer social skills two years later than girls who devoted less time to video games.
The gender gap might have something to do with differences in how girls and boys game, and how they socialize, the study suggests. By age 12, boys gamed for more than two hours daily, on average, compared to less than an hour for girls. The study wasn't designed to prove whether or how gaming might directly influence social development.
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It's possible that children who struggle with social or behavioral skills might gravitate toward gaming precisely because it doesn't require face-to-face interactions. Google Stadia. The nature of gaming is also different now than it was a generation ago. Princesses Become Magical Creatures. Celebrities Joking Around. Princesses Just A Crazy Weekend. Celebs Facing The Fashion Challenge. Baby Princesses Playdate Joy. Ear and Eyes Emergency. Sisters Extreme Throat Emergency. Dazzling Festival Braids.
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