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Plugged In

New study finds no tie between video games and behavioral problems

Plugged In

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Critics have long complained that video games are responsible for behavioral problems in children. But a new study is arguing otherwise.

An examination of 11,000 children by the University of Glasgow has concluded that playing games has no impact on a child's behavior, even when the child plays those games at a very young age.

The study looked at both attention and emotional issues, and the findings were consistent in both boys and girls. Researchers looked at both gaming and long periods of television viewing, pulling data from the 10-year Millennium Cohort Study in Great Britain. That report checked in with families when their children were nine months old, then again at ages 3, 5, and 7, asking (among other things) how long the children were exposed to TV and games on a daily basis. All of the children were born between 2000 and 2002.

Among the findings? Watching TV for three hours or more each day did result in a slight increase in problems for children between the ages of 5 and 7. Games, though, were in the clear - possibly due to closer attention to ratings or parents monitoring how much time they let their children play.

"We did not find associations between electronic game use and conduct problems, which could reflect the lower exposure to games and/or greater parental restrictions on age-appropriate content for games compared with TV," the report reads.

Researchers note that their findings run counter to some U.S. studies that blame attention problems on games and TV. They note that could be due to differences in how the problems were measured and the surrounding environment of the children. “Further work is required to establish causal mechanisms,” the report cautions.

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