Playing on the Internet does not seem to put children at increased risk for mental health problems, according to the reassuring results of a new study involving researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The study was published in the English language Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Does it have a negative effect on children if they spend a lot of time playing games in front of the computer? This question should now be clarified in a new study and the answer should interest many parents – because as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, many children currently spend significantly more time in front of the computer screen.
Children spend a lot of time with computer games these days. This can become a real addiction, known as Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD). One of the symptoms of such a gaming disorder is that it affects school, work or friendships. Those affected continue to play, even though they are aware that they lose interest in other activities and lie about the time spent playing games, explain the researchers.
Earlier studies have indicated that excessive use of the screen can lead to a poorer ability to recognize emotions, for example in small children, the researchers report. However, there are also children who develop friendships and social cohesion through play.
What is Internet Gaming Disorder?
“We have not found a connection between Internet Gaming Disorder and psychiatric problems, apart from the fact that 10- and 12-year-olds, who showed more symptoms of gaming addiction, developed fewer anxiety symptoms two years later, when they were 12 and 14 years old,” explains study author Beate Wold Hygen in a press release from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
This finding could be related to the social aspects of games or to the fact that games are a distraction that causes children to think less, the researchers explain.
“We have looked at anxiety, depression, ADHD and the oppositional behavioral disorder. Children who exhibited more symptoms of these mental disorders were not more susceptible to gambling addiction,” explains Hygen.
Effects of computer games on children
If mental problems and IGD occur simultaneously, they must therefore be explained by other common underlying factors, the team explains further. Possibly genetic dispositions, which influence both the inclination to the addiction (also after Internet plays), and other psychological problems, play thereby an important, so the assumption of the specialists. (as)
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