Showing posts with label video games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label video games. Show all posts

Monday, August 4, 2014

Video Games and Psychosocial Adjustment

Pediatrics Editorial Board Member Terrill Bravender MD, MPH, shares his expert perspective on a new article from our September issue. To learn more about Dr. Bravender and his work in adolescent medicine, check out his bio on our Contributors page.

By: Terrill Bravender, MD, MPH

Photo by OakleyOriginals via Flickr
The effects of video games on child development and behavior have been topics of intense debate since "Pac Man" first hit the arcades. These days, though, adolescents no longer need a pocket full of quarters, and "Call of Duty: Black Ops" is certainly not "Donkey Kong".

With more than 97 percent of adolescents reporting video game use, “gaming” is the new normal. In the September issue of Pediatrics, Dr. Andrew Przybylski (doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-4021) presents a fascinating population-based study of the effects of self-reported daily video game use on measures of psychosocial adjustment. No matter how you feel about video games, you will likely be intrigued.

While moderate levels of game play (defined as one to three hours daily) had no effect on adjustment indicators, those teens who reported playing for more than three hours daily indicated higher levels of internalizing and externalizing problems as well as lower levels of prosocial behavior. This is unlikely to surprise any parent who has tried to get an online teenager to turn away from the video screen, disconnect the headphone and microphone, and go outside to try to experience something IRL (“in real life” for the uninitiated).

However, the news is not all bad for the adolescents who use video games in moderation: Those teens who reported playing for less than one hour daily had higher levels of prosocial behavior than those teens who said they never played. These low-level players also reported lower levels of internalizing and externalizing problems.

The author contends that low-level playing might help children work through social and cognitive challenges online without taking too much time away from their offline lives. Although the results are fascinating and statistically significant, the reader must keep in mind that the effects are small, with video games only accounting for 0.3 to 1.5 percent of the variability in their measures. Even so, these small effects are broad, and may help create a more nuanced understanding of the behavioral and developmental effects of video games.

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