Gaming May Reduce Depressive Symptoms in Boys

Girls, however, may experience more depressive symptoms with video game exposure.
Loukia Papadopoulos

When young, we were often told not to spend too much time in front of a screen choosing instead to play outside. This advice, it turns out, may not be in our best interest.

A new study is revealing that male teens who play video games frequently are 24.2% less likely to develop depressive symptoms. The study followed 11,341 adolescents aged 11 for three years and monitored their digital activities.

The study did, however, find that boys who partook in physical activity were not influenced by video games. This indicates that video games only affect those male teens who are not physically active.

"More frequent video game use was consistently associated with fewer depressive symptoms in boys with low physical activity, but not in those with high physical activity," stated the study.

The effect doesn't hold up for female adolescents

Another interesting outcome was the fact that teen girls were actually found to be negatively affected by playing video games. "In girls, compared with less than once a month/never, using social media most days at age 11 was associated with 13% higher depression scores at age 14," wrote the study.

The research did not give any reasons for these findings but one could venture a guess that girls tend to be more social creatures requiring the company of others to stay emotionally healthy. Video games by nature are mostly solo activities where physical contact is limited.

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The research also did not state whether it took other factors into account while conducting the study such as the adolescents' family situation and popularity levels. Many factors can lead to depression and the study does not make it clear how they managed to isolate video games as the sole source of the teens' depression.

Still, it provides an interesting take on video games, one that would benefit from further study. The research was published in the journal Cambridge University Press

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