Male children who play video games are at a lower likelihood of developing depression, according to new research by the University College London.
The UCL study, published in Psychological Medicine, examined more than 11,000 adolescents as part of the Millennium Cohort Study. It focused on how boys at age 11, who frequently played video games, were less likely to experience depressive traits three years later.
By age 14, a clinical questionnaire was administered to measure depressive symptoms among the male participants.
The findings showed that video gaming among male children led to a 24 percent reduction in depressive symptoms, a few years later. This effect was not evident among female children, however.
Video gaming, according to researchers, could bring about more enjoyment and social interaction among the less active male participants.
For female children, at age 11, only a 13 percent reduction of depressive symptoms was measured a few years later. The study also found that girls were more likely to develop depressive symptoms if they spent more time on social networking sites.
“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,” researchers inferred in a news release.
“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.”