FEB 12, 2021 8:17 AM PST

Do Video Games Decrease Depression Risk in Boys?

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Do boys who play video games on a regular basis have a lower risk of depression? According to a new study, the answer would be yes. Although this is not the first study that ties technology to mental health, it is surprising considering the overwhelming number of studies that point to the adverse-affects of video game addiction.

"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,” notes Aaaron Kandola, lead author of the study and PhD student in UCL Psychiatry.

Findings were published in the journal Psychological Medicine and notes significant gender differences among girls who play video games and are placed at higher risk of developing depressives symptoms versus in boys.

"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. Particularly during the pandemic, video games have been an important social platform for young people.”

When you take these findings together, it points to how screen time holds positive and negative influence on young people’s mental health.

"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."

Learn more about video games and mental health:

The study confirmed that there are indeed some positive effects of video games, including problem-solving skills, social cooperation, and other engaging elements. The researchers also note that there could be outside factors that affect mental health and video game use. These include social interactions and parenting styles that affect screen use patterns.

Dr. Mats Hallgren, of the Karolinska Institutet, notes: "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."

The authors note that the study did not find clear associations between general internet use and depressive symptoms in either boys or girls.

Source: Science Daily


About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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