Boys Who Regularly Play Video Games Have Lower Risk Of Developing Depressive Symptoms, Study Finds
Researchers from University College London used data from 11,341 youngsters - 11-year-olds, to be precise - looking at their usage of social media, gaming and the internet.
Three years later, scientists checked back in with the youngsters - by then aged 14, of course - and asked them questions about depressive symptoms, such as low mood, poor concentration and loss of pleasure.
They found that the boys who had played video games most days had a 24 percent reduction in depressive symptoms three years on, compared to the boys who played video games less than once a month.
However, the researchers say this effect was only significantly found in boys with low levels of physical activity, and it was not found among girls.
The study's lead author, PhD student Aaron Kandola from UCL Psychiatry, told Yahoo: "Screens allow us to engage in a wide range of activities.
"Guidelines and recommendations about screen time should be based on our understanding of how these different activities might influence mental health and whether that influence is meaningful.
"While we cannot confirm whether playing video games actually improves mental health, it didn't appear harmful in our study and may have some benefits.
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"Particularly during the pandemic, video games have been an important social platform for young people.
"We need to reduce how much time children, and adults, spend sitting down, for their physical and mental health, but that doesn't mean that screen use is inherently harmful."
The scientists also found that girls who spent more time using social media were more likely to develop depressive symptoms.
Eleven-year-old girls who used social media were 13 times more likely to report depressive symptoms three years later than those who only used social media less than once a month.
Senior author Dr Mats Hallgren, of the Karolinska Institutet, added: "The relationship between screen time and mental health is complex and we still need more research to help understand it.
"Any initiatives to reduce young people's screen time should be targeted and nuanced.
"Our research points to possible benefits of screen time.
"However, we should still encourage young people to be physically active and to break up extended periods of sitting with light physical activity."
So there you go - turns out all those of years playing Mario Kart as a child might not have been a waste of time after all.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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