In a new study, researchers found that a moderate amount of daily video game playing is perfectly healthy -- with neither positive nor negative consequences -- while a minimal amount was actually correlated with the most well-adjusted kids.
Psychologists at Oxford University looked at the effects of video games on kids, 10 to 15 years old. Study participants were asked how much time they spent playing video games -- whether on phones, console systems or computers. The kids were asked questions about their relative happiness, levels of hyperactivity and inattention. Some of the questions looked to measure empathy and their ability to get along with friends.
In analyzing the results, scientists found that kids who played an hour or less per day were actually better adjusted than kids who never played or those who played for three-plus hours.
Still, the study's lead author says the main take away is not that video games are good for you, but that they're not really bad for you in small to moderate amounts.
"High levels of video game-playing appear to be only weakly linked to children's behavioral problems in the real world," explained Dr. Andrew Przybylski, researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute. "Likewise, the small, positive effects we observed for low levels of play on electronic games do not support the idea that video games on their own can help children develop in an increasingly digital world."
Przybylski says the new study -- published this week in the journal Pediatrics -- undermines previously released guidelines on video game time limits.
"Further research needs to be carried out to look closely at the specific attributes of games that make them beneficial or harmful," he said. "It will also be important to identify how social environments such as family, peers, and the community shape how gaming experiences influence young people."