New York: Worried about your adolescent child's heavy video game addiction? Take heart, he or she may be playing games together with friends or chatting with them online while playing.
A new study suggests that while playing video games for more than four hours a day may lead to symptoms of depression, but if children are socially engaged with friends and play together, they may not develop addiction-like problems.
"While playing video games for four hours a day can be worrisome behaviour, not everyone who does so is at risk of developing symptoms of addiction or depression," said lead author Michelle Colder Carras, post-doctoral researcher at the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, US.
The findings showed that some of the downsides of gaming may be balanced out in those who are socially engaged either online or in real life with friends.
For the study, the team examined the friendship bonds and time spent in playing video games in nearly 10,000 teenagers.
The results showed that boys who were not very social online showed more loneliness and anxiety, regardless of the quality of their friendships.
On the other hand, girls who gamed extensively but were also very active in online social settings showed less loneliness and social anxiety but had lower self-esteem.
However, it should not be assumed that all adolescents can have a gaming-related disorder.
Instead, parents and clinicians need to focus on those who lack a social life or have other problems, the Carras noted.
The study is forthcoming in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.