The amount of time children spend playing video games is linked to small differences in mental and social health, permitting to a new study.
Compared with children who do not play any video game all the children playing for no more than an hour a day performed better on assessments of mental and social health - while children who played three or more hours daily had worse ratings.
But new research also found that time spent on video games can affect only a sliver of the overall behavior of the child.
"It's probably more important to know how much (game) is going to control the amount that is happening," said Andrew Przybylski, untried psychologist and researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
For example, the content of the game and whether or not a parent plays with the child may be more important for mental and social health of how long the game is played.
Previous studies highlighted the positive and negative effects of video games, but Przybylski wrote in the journal Pediatrics that no studies have examined the balance of these effects in children.
For the new study, which analyzed data from 5,000 children between the ages of 10 and 15 in the UK. The children had reported the amount of time spent playing video games and comprehensive assessments of mental and social well-being.
There was no difference in scores between children playing between one and three hours of video games and not reporting the video game.
Children who reported playing less than an hour of video games per day tended to perform better in their mental and social than those who did not report the video game, Przybylski found evaluations.
Specifically, an hour or less each day playing video games was tied to a higher life satisfaction score, better social scores and fewer internalizing and externalizing problems, compared to those who did not play video games.
Przybylski found the opposite trend when compared children who played three or more hours of video games per day to those who do not play any video games.
Although the results may suggest some - but not much - of game play each day is associated with better mental and social wellbeing, Przybylski said that only about 1.5 percent of the psychosocial health of children may be influenced by the time video game.
"There was a 98.5 percent happiness or a child gets in trouble at school that had nothing to do with the video game time,"
The study can not answer why the video game time is linked with mental and social happiness, but Przybylski said one possibility is that children spend less time playing video games spend more time with friends and family.
Still, he said the video game time can be constructive and social in the right circumstances.