VIDEO gaming does not harm social development in boys — but girls who play struggle to make friends, a study suggests.
However, all kids aged eight to ten who find it hard to make friends are more likely to game more than two years later.
Girls who play video games are more likely to struggle to make friends than boys who play[/caption]
The study of more than 870 youngsters aged six to 12, their parents and teachers found the time boys spent playing games has no harmful effect on their social development.
But 10-year-old girls who spent more time playing video games developed weaker social skills two years later than girls who spent less time playing.
American and Norwegian researchers said female gamers’ relatively poorer social skills could be down to them being more isolated from other girls.
They added that the reasons some kids spend a lot of time gaming may be more important than the impact of gaming itself.
WITH FRIENDS OR ALONE
Study leader Dr Beate Wold Hygen, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), said: “Our study may mitigate some concerns about the adverse effects of gaming on children’s development.
“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.”
The researchers also looked at time spent playing game with friends or alone – as those who play alone or with strangers online have less opportunity to make meaningful relationships.
They did this as boys tend to spend more time gaming than girls and tend to show lower levels of social competence.
‘LESS COMPLICATED THAN FACE-TO-FACE INTERACTIONS’
Disadvantaged youngsters were at a greater risk of suffering problems that affect their social competence.
BMI was studied as overweight girls are more likely to be gamers and children with higher BMIs also tend to have problems developing social skills.
Study co-author Professor Lars Wichstrøm, of NTNU, said: “It might be that poor social competence drives youth’s tendency to play video games for extensive periods of time.
“That is, youth who struggle socially might be more inclined to play games to fulfil 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 children aged 10 and 12 reported on how much they played video games using tablets, PCs, game consoles and mobile phones while their parents did for those aged six and eight.
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All the children’s teachers completed questionnaires on the children’s and adolescents’ social competence, including measures of cooperation, assertion, and self-control.
And the youth also reported how often they played games with their friends.
The researchers warned that the youngsters involved in the study only reported an average amount of time gaming over a limited time frame.
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