Girls who enjoy video games tend to have weaker social skills.
Girls who enjoy video games tend to have weaker social skills.

Face it, video games are fun. But scientists and parents long have worried that time spent slaying dragons could stunt a young person's ability to make friends in the real world.

    A new study released this week found that the time boys spent gaming did not affect their social development. But it's a different story for girls. 
    The study, conducted in Norway, concluded that 10-year-old girls who spent more time playing video games developed weaker social skills two years later than girls who spent less time playing the games, according to the Society for Research in Child Development.
    The research focused on 873 Norwegian students ages 6 to 12 from different socioeconomic backgrounds.  When the children were ages 6 and 8, their parents reported how much time they spent playing video games on various devices. Teachers completed questionnaires on students’ social competence, including whether they were cooperative, assertive or could exercise self-control.
    For girls, the link between poor social development and video games may have something to do with isolation. Those girls have “less opportunity to practice social skills with other girls, which may affect their later social competence,” the society reported. In addition, children who struggled socially at ages 8 and 10 were more likely to spend more time playing video games at ages 10 and 12.
    So, is it that video games cause a child to be less capable socially? Or is it that children who have trouble making friends are more likely to play video games?
    “It might be that poor social competence drives youth’s tendency to play video games for extensive periods of time,” said Lars Wichstrom, professor of psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and a co-author of the study, quoted in a news release by the Society for Research in Child Development. “That is, youth who struggle socially might be more inclined to play games to fulfill their need to belong and their desire for mastery because gaming is easily accessible and may be less complicated for them than face-to-face interactions.”


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