TUESDAY, April 23, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Playing video games is generally not harmful to boys’ social development, though it may be associated with less social competence in girls, according to a study published online April 23 in Child Development.

Beate W. Hygen, Ph.D., from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, and colleagues investigated whether the quantity of time children spend on gaming is related to their social development. Analysis included 873 Norwegian children enrolled at 6 years of age and followed until age 12 years.

The researchers found that greater social competence at both 8 and 10 years predicted less gaming at age 12 years, while more gaming at age 10 years predicted less social competence at age 12 among girls. Furthermore, children who struggled socially at ages 8 and 10 years were more likely to spend more time playing video games at ages 10 and 12 years. These findings controlled for socioeconomic status, body mass index, and time spent gaming with friends.

“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,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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