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New Study Reveals Correlation Between Time Spent Gaming And Well-Being

A unique study is responsible for producing some new information where it pertains to the link between the time spent playing video games and well-being.

Oxford University’s research, published in the Royal Society Open Science journal, yielded some surprising findings on the above and, having begun in 2019 with input from some of the biggest companies in the gaming industry. The university’s goal was to fashion a correlational study using objective play-time data instead of the typical self-reported data used in previous research.

Over 3,000 players made contributions to the study while anonymized telemetry data from EA and Nintendo of America was also used. Focus was placed on two games, in particular, namely Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The players who accepted the invitation completed surveys on well-being and the motivations behind their gaming.

Prior research does suggest games can have a very positive impact on mental health, especially if played socially. Back in 2018, though, the World Health Organization classified compulsive gaming as a mental health disorder.

One of the researchers involved in the recent study, Andrew Przybylski, did note that the results don’t suggest a causal link between the time spent gaming and subjective well-being, meaning gamers won’t necessarily be happier the longer they spend playing various titles. However, the correlation is a positive one.

Przybylski says the data points to the whys of playing as opposed to the amount of time spent playing a game. Essentially, the notion of regulating gameplay duration might not be the correct way to lessen potential negative effects.

“I want to point out this isn’t evidence of causation,” he explained. “Absolutely not. It’s fairly strong evidence that the correlation isn’t negative, at least over these time periods.

“Our findings show video games aren’t necessarily bad for your health; there are other psychological factors which have a significant effect on a person’s well-being. In fact, play can be an activity that relates positively to people’s mental health – and regulating video games could withhold those benefits from players.”

Przybylski’s work has been very critical of previous research on the negative effects of technology, the likes of smartphones and video games. Where this particular study is concerned, he credits EA and Nintendo for their involvement as industry players have been hesitant to provide information for institutions undertaking similar research.

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