A new study suggests that gaming doesn’t really affect social development in boys, but it might have a slight effect on girls.
Parents are always afraid that their kid is spending too much time in front of a screen and it’s going to cause them to grow up into little basement-dwelling gremlins. Now, a new study from Norway is proving that most likely won’t be the case.
The study was published earlier this week and looked at young boys and girls and how much gaming affects their social development. It was conducted by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the University of California, Davis, and St. Olav's Hospital in Norway.
The subjects were 873 Norwegian youths all aged 6-12. Researchers looked at socioeconomic backgrounds, BMI, gender, and whether or not the kids played video games alone or with friends.
And it was a pretty simple study. Researchers asked the children’s parents to report how much time they spend gaming (whether that be on a phone, tablet, PC, or console), and then the kids reported their own gaming habits once they reached the age of 10-12 years old. The children’s teachers then completed questionnaires on their subjects’ social competence, measuring cooperation, assertion, and self-control.
The results were surprisingly unremarkable. According to the abstract, the study "found that playing games affected youth differently by age and gender, but that generally speaking, gaming was not associated with social development."
No matter how much they gamed, young boys didn’t show any effect at all. "However, the authors did find that 10-year-old girls who played games frequently had less social competence than 12-year-olds than girls who played less frequently."
The study also noted that kids who were struggling socially at ages 8-10 were more likely to be gamers between the ages of 10-12. Which, let’s be honest, sounds pretty spot on for a lot of us.
In the end, this study is good news for parents who are concerned that its video games that are causing their young son or daughter to be such a malcontent. Scratch video games off the list.