Video games may help, rather than hinder, mental health, study reveals

People who play video games regularly may have better mental health than those who do not, a “groundbreaking” study has revealed.

The research, published by the University of Oxford, is among the first to demonstrate the positive wellbeing effects associated with gaming.

According to the paper, the researchers asked more than 3,270 players to complete a survey designed to measure mental health, self-reported play time, and motivational experiences during play.

Contrary to popular opinion, the survey found that the amount of time spent playing video games was a “small but significant positive factor in people’s wellbeing”, as well as the player’s subjective experiences during play.

The research also found that players experiencing “genuine enjoyment” from games report greater positive wellbeing.

Commenting on the study, author and Professor Andrew Przybylski said the finding may alleviate concerns parents may have if children are spending time playing video games.

“Our findings show video games aren’t necessarily bad for your health; there are other psychological factors which have a significant effect on a persons’ well-being. In fact, play can be an activity that relates positively to people’s mental health – and regulating video games could withhold those benefits from players,” he said.

“Through access to data on peoples’ playing time, for the first time we’ve been able to investigate the relation between actual game play behaviour and subjective well-being, enabling us to deliver a template for crafting high-quality evidence to support health policymakers.”

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.

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