UK Study: Playing Videogames Does Not Create Conduct Problems in Kids

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in June 2011 that California could not restrict the sale of “violent” video games to anyone under the age of 18, mainly because the law was unconstitutional, but also because, after examining the many studies on the subject, SCOTUS found no concrete link between games and real world violence. That ruling, seemingly the definitive conclusion to the “video games did it” silliness, apparently means nothing to numerous politicians who continue to insist games are the root of all evil.

Yes, in states all across the country as well as in our nation’s capital, politicians are once again putting forward legislation to study violent games in hopes of discovering a smoking digital gun which would then be used in yet another attempt to ban games. Most notably, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller believes that, “Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it. They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons.” Rockefeller wants the National Academy of Sciences to conduct the comprehensive study on the subject.

Turns out, there was already a massive study on the impact of kids playing games underway. In fact, the 10-year study of more than 13,000 children in the UK, which looked at the psychosocial impact of video games as well as television viewing, is now complete.

The study, “Do television and electronic games predict children’s psychosocial adjustment?” was published yesterday with results that will hopefully end the argument once and for all. Here’s what the Medical Research Council at the University of Glasgow discovered:
Watching TV for 3 h or more at 5 years predicted a 0.13 point increase (95% CI 0.03 to 0.24) in conduct problems by 7 years, compared with watching for under an hour, but playing electronic games was not associated with conduct problems. No associations were found between either type of screen time and emotional symptoms, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems or prosocial behaviour. There was no evidence of gender differences in the effect of screen time. TV but not electronic games predicted a small increase in conduct problems.
To be fair to Rockefeller et al, this particular study did not focus on so-called “violent” videogames. In fact, the researchers didn’t look at what UK kids were playing, only how long they were playing games each day. So it could have been Call of Duty and it could have been Wii Sports. Likely it was a mix of many games and genres. The bottom line is, the games had absolutely zero impact on children’s behavior.
The complete study is available for viewing via ADC Online.

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2 Comments on UK Study: Playing Videogames Does Not Create Conduct Problems in Kids

SweetPea

On November 18, 2013 at 6:52 am

And some people needed 10 years to realize this?

MarkEMark

On November 19, 2013 at 4:33 am

“The bottom line is, the games had absolutely zero impact on children’s behavior.”

Not really. It’s a pretty inconclusive “research” paper.

Basically all it does is lift the results done by another study (which seems to be more aimed at collecting data on social welfare) and point out that there was a negligible increase in anti-social behaviour that was attributed to game time by the parent (it was a self-reported study).