If you have a gamer in the house, you have probably wondered whether video games impact your child’s social skills. Recent research published in the journal Child Development may have found that this interactive form of screen-time isn’t all bad—at least for some kids.

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU Social Research, the University of California, Davis and St. Olav’s Hospital in Norway delved into data from 873 Norwegian children ages 6 through 12 and what they found out about social development and gaming might surprise you.

photo: Jessica Lewis via Pexels

Using a combination of parental, self and teacher reporting from ages six to 12, researchers reviewed how much time was spent playing video games and reports of social competence. What did the researchers find?

When it comes to boys, video game play didn’t affect (either positively or negatively) social development. But for girls, increased video game play equaled weaker social skill development between the ages of 10 and 12.

Children of both genders who struggled socially at ages 8 and 10 also spent more time playing video games at ages 10 and 12. But there’s no clear evidence whether video game play caused weak social skills or it was the other way around.

Of course, this isn’t exactly the first study to tackle the child development-video game connection. A 2016 study found that video game play was connected to decreases in peer relationship problems. Research, published in the journal Computers and Human Behavior found that playing prosocial types of video games could positively impact both peer relationships and the development of empathy.

If you’re wondering whether this means video games are good for your child, the jury’s still out. Use caution, monitor your kiddo and strive for a screen-time vs. everything else-time balance.

—Erica Loop

 

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