Playing Video Games By Children May Be Helpful In Moderation Interview with:

Jesus Pujol, MD Director of the MRI Research Unit. Department of Radiology. Hospital del Mar Barcelona

Dr. Jesus Pujol

Jesus Pujol, MD
Director of the MRI Research Unit.
Department of Radiology. Hospital del Mar
Barcelona What is the background for this study?

Response: The pros and cons of video gaming in children have been extensively debated. There are relevant amounts of data indicating both the positive and negative effects of video games. Nevertheless, a key question for many parents remains unanswered: How long should children play? To provide some clarity, we have investigated the relationship between weekly video game use and certain cognitive abilities and conduct-related problems. What are the main findings?

Response: Based on the assessment of 2442 children, the study provided key data that may well suggest the amount of video gaming (in terms of hours per week) that may be appropriate in schoolchildren aged 7 to 11 years.

Compared with no playing, playing video games was associated with better motor skills and higher school achievement scores. Nevertheless, playing 2 hour per week was sufficient to acquire the advantage. In contrast, 9 hours or more of video gaming per week was associated with conduct problems, peer conflicts and reduced prosocial abilities. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Video gaming per se is neither good nor bad, but its level of use makes it so.
Overall, the range 1 to 9 hours a week seems to be safe, but playing more than 9 hours may be not recommended for children 7 to 11 years old. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future research could interestingly focus on testing the usefulness of video gaming programs both for children education and training and for treating neurological and psychiatric disorders during the rehabilitation process. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We also observed in a subgroup of children of this study that gaming use was associated with better function in brain circuits critical for learning based on the acquisition of new skills through practice (the frontal-basal ganglia circuits). Children traditionally acquire motor skills through action, for instance in relation to sports and outdoor games. Neuroimaging research now suggests that training with desktop virtual environments is also capable of modulating brain systems that support motor skill learning. Thank you for your contribution to the community.

Video gaming in school children: How much is enough? Pujol J, Fenoll R, Forns J, Harrison BJ, Martínez-Vilavella G, Macià D, Alvarez-Pedrerol M, Blanco-Hinojo L, González-Ortiz S, Deus J, Sunyer J. Ann Neurol. 2016 Sep;80(3):424-33. doi: 10.1002/ana.24745

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on September 14, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD