A majority of young children, especially boys play video games every day. Although parents try to keep a check on their children because of the violence and addiction of most of these games there are many benefits of playing video games too. According to a new study by UCL researchers, young boys who play video games every day have a low risk to develop an anxiety disorder or depression for up to three years.
This study is now published in the journal Psychological Medicine.
Along with these findings, it also reported that girls who are more active on social media platforms end up developing depressive symptoms. When studied together, this study presents a unique aspect of using screens, which can either positively or negatively affect a person’s mental health. Also, this use of screens affects boys as well as girls in a different way.
Aaron Kandola, a doctoral candidate at UCL Psychiatry is the lead author of this study. According to Kandola, screens can be used for various purposes and reasons. The general guidelines on screen time and usage are the same, no matter what is the reason. But these recommendations should be rather focused on activities that may affect mental health, positively or negatively.
There is no clear data on how playing video games improves the cognition and mental health of a person, especially a child. But with controlled screen time, it looks like video games aren’t harmful to young boys. At this time when the world is passing through a pandemic, playing video games at home is one of the only entertaining activities for young people which also saves them from depression.
In this study, the UCL team from Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) collaborated with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute (Australia) and analyzed the data obtained from 11,341 young children, all of which were included in the Millennium Cohort Study. This cohort study was a national-level sample taken from young individuals who were a part of various researches from the time that they were born during 2000 to 2002.
However, the time spent sitting and playing games should be closely monitored as inactivity can also affect health negatively. Plus too much screen time can cause vision-related impairments. For very young children, parents have to keep a watchful eye especially regarding the nature of their games. Games with explicit details or violence should not be easily accessible to these children, who are too young to determine their after-effects.
Kandola has also worked on sedentary behavioral changes and how they may affect the development of anxiety in teens and adolescents. To understand more about how this relationship is established, he and some of his colleagues studied screen time as a risk factor for a sedentary lifestyle.
There are many other studies that have evaluated screen time but they were unable to determine which type of screen time was most helpful or most dangerous, also there was no comparison on the basis of gender, and none of these studies targeted younger people and tracked their progress for coming years. For all these reasons, the results from these studies were mixed and were unable to establish a specific outcome.