Home Study finds playing video games extensively does not affect adult gamers’ mental health

Study finds playing video games extensively does not affect adult gamers’ mental health

A recent study has found that playing video games extensively does not significantly affect players’ well-being, addressing concerns about potential mental health risks from gaming.

Published in the journal Technology Mind and Behavior, the research reveals no substantial positive or negative effects of video game playtime on adult gamers’ mental health.

What is a gaming disorder?

The debate over gaming’s impact on well-being has been prevalent in research, media, and policy discussions. This concern intensified when the World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to its International Classification of Diseases in 2018.

It is classified as a pattern of behavior “characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

What the research found

To measure playtime across various games, researchers developed a method to record playtime on the Xbox platform. Over 12 weeks, a study involving 414 adult U.S. and U.K. gamers who mainly play on Xbox explored the relationship between playtime and well-being.

The research, authored by Oxford Internet Institute post doctoral researcher, Nick Ballou, assessed three dimensions of well-being. These include positive affect (the participants’ current happiness levels), depressive symptoms (experiences of sadness or hopelessness in the previous week), and overall mental health (psychological state over the prior two weeks). Playtime was also recorded and measured across three time periods: the last 24 hours, the previous week, and the preceding two weeks.

Participants generally spent around 2.1 hours per day playing video games. However, the amount of time dedicated to gaming varied widely among them. Some gamers played for just around an hour each day, while others played for much longer periods.

Despite different model specifications in this study with 2036 completed surveys, the links between playtime and mental well-being were found to be minimal, suggesting that the duration of gameplay is not a major factor affecting mental health. Instead, the study supports a shift in research focus towards the context and quality of gameplay.

Limitations with the study

However, there are several limitations in the study that need to be addressed. A significant limitation is the possibility of time-varying confounders—variables that could affect both gaming habits and well-being over time. For instance, fluctuations in disposable income might influence both the amount of gaming and an individual’s mental health. Although the study did gather open-ended feedback on life events that could impact both gaming and well-being, this data was not thoroughly analyzed.

Another constraint is the study’s focus on a particular demographic: adult Xbox players in the United States and the United Kingdom. This specificity may limit the applicability of the results to younger gamers, people in other geographical areas, or those who use different gaming platforms.

Featured image: Canva

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Suswati Basu
Tech journalist

Suswati Basu is a multilingual, award-winning editor and the founder of the intersectional literature channel, How To Be Books. She was shortlisted for the Guardian Mary Stott Prize and longlisted for the Guardian International Development Journalism Award. With 18 years of experience in the media industry, Suswati has held significant roles such as head of audience and deputy editor for NationalWorld news, digital editor for Channel 4 News and ITV News. She has also contributed to the Guardian and received training at the BBC As an audience, trends, and SEO specialist, she has participated in panel events alongside Google. Her…

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.