Gaming ‘causes no ill effects’ in young boys (but gamer girls can struggle to make friends)

Rob Waugh
Maybe Fortnite isn’t so bad after all (Getty)

Games, and in particular shoot ‘em ups, are frequently blamed for a huge number of social ills – with Prince Harry calling for a ban on the hit Fortnite.

But a new study has suggested they might not be quite as bad as they’re portrayed (although they have some negative effects).

Researchers looked at how playing video games affected the social skills of 873 children aged six to 12 – and found few ill effects in boys.

The researchers found that girls who played games frequently at age 10 had fewer social skills two years later – but the researchers suspect that children with low social skills may ‘seek out’ gaming as a hobby.

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‘Our study may mitigate some concerns about the adverse effects of gaming on children’s development,’ says Beate Wold Hygen, postdoctoral fellow at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology NTNU and NTNU Social Research, who led the study.

‘It might not be gaming itself that warrants our attention, but the reasons some children and adolescents spend a lot of their spare time playing the games.’

‘It might be that poor social competence drives youth’s tendency to play video games for extensive periods of time,’ suggests Lars Wichstrøm, professor of psychology at NTNU, who coauthored the study.

‘That is, youth who struggle socially might be more inclined to play games to fulfill their need to belong and their desire for mastery because gaming is easily accessible and may be less complicated for them than face-to-face interactions.’

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