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Children who play video games for more than three hours a day are more likely to be hyperactive, get involved in fights and not be interested in school, says a new study. It examined the effects of different types of games and time spent playing on children’s social and academic behaviour.

Poor behaviour linked to time spent gaming not types of games

The researchers from the University of Oxford found that the time spent playing games could be linked with problem behaviour and this was the significant factor rather than the types of games played. They could find no link between playing violent games and real-life aggression or a child’s academic performance. They also found that low levels of play – under an hour a day – might actually benefit behaviour. The findings are published in the journal, Psychology of Popular Media Culture, published by the American Psychological Association.

Lead author Dr Andrew Przybylski, from Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute, said: 'We can see links between some types of games and children’s behaviour, as well as time spent playing. However, we cannot say that game play causes good or bad behaviour. We also know that the risks attached to game-playing are small. A range of other factors in a child’s life will influence their behaviour more as this research suggests that playing electronic games may be a statistically significant but minor factor in how children progress academically or in their emotional wellbeing.'

Although some parents might believe that by playing strategy and puzzle games their child might boost their school grades or increase their social skills, the bad news is that the sociability and the grades of the children who played such games were found to be no higher than their non-playing peers.

Read more on the University website (opens new window)

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