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U-M study: Video game play among teens affects school work, not socializing

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Kids who spend a lot of time playing video games are finding time to socialize with friends too—though that's not the case when it comes to doing homework.

A new study by the University of Michigan shows game players and non-game players spent the same amount of time with parents and friends. The study sampled nearly 1,500 teens nationwide.

For boy and girl gamers, the more time they spent playing video games with their friends on the weekends, the more time they spent in other activities with them as well, said Hope Cummings, a graduate student in the U-M Department of Communication Studies.

Cummings and Elizabeth Vandewater, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote the study, which appears in the July issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

But while video games did not negatively affect teens' social interaction, the same could not be said for school-related activities. Compared to non-gamers, kids who played video games spent 30 percent less time reading and 34 percent less time doing homework.

The sample of 1,491 children ages 10 to 19 years kept diaries about how they used their time for 24 hours on one weekday and one weekend day, with each day randomly chosen. The diaries tracked adolescents' time spent playing video games, with parents and friends, reading and doing homework, and in sports and active leisure.

In the study, 534 kids (or 36 percent) played video games. Eighty percent (425) were boys and 20 percent (109) were girls. Female gamers spent an average of 44 minutes playing on the weekdays and one hour and four minutes playing on the weekends. Male gamers spent an average of 58 minutes playing on the weekdays and one hour and 37 minutes playing on the weekends.

Among gamers, time spent playing video games without parents or friends was related to less time spent with parents and friends in other activities. For girl gamers only, the more time they spent playing video games with their parents, the more time they spent with their parents in other activities.

"Video game popularity continues its rapid growth," Cummings said. "This creates concerns among parents, teachers and politicians who think video games will interfere with adolescences' social interaction and academic success."

 

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