Well whaddya know, more research that shows video games are good for young people? That can't be right. According to a comprehensive review of existing research put together by folks at Queensland University of Technology, playing a moderate amount of video games can positively affect children's self esteem and, on the whole, can help improve emotional stability.
Gaming picture from Shutterstock
The research was initially reported on at The Conversation and stated three major findings...
- moderate (non-excessive) levels of playing are associated with positive emotions and improved mood, improved emotion regulation and emotional stability and the reduction of emotional disturbances;
- playing video games is a healthy means of relaxation, stress reduction and socialising; and
- people who play video games in moderation have significantly less depressed mood and higher self-esteem (compared to those who don’t play or who play excessively).
Another interesting finding was the fact that this improved sense of well-being was directly related, not to the type or genre of the games being played, but more to the concept of 'flow' within a game. Simply put games in which you experience this (I'm guessing in games like Guitar Hero or Tetris or even a game like Bayonetta) are more likely to give players that vibe of simply feeling 'good'.
The researchers are interested in applying this research to video game ratings. Instead of rating games according to violence, language or drug use, they suggest a system that rates the game according to its positive influence. Seems a bit out there considering what ratings are actually supposed to do — inform parents of content they don't want their children to see — but I think it could be an interesting additional rating to have. If we're going to inform parents of the negative aspects of games, why not get them informed on what's positive about the game they plan on buying.
You can read more on this research over at The Conversation.