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July 2007

Relation of Adolescent Video Game Play to Time Spent in Other Activities

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Communication Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ms Cummings); and Human Development and Family Sciences (Ms Cummings and Dr Vandewater), Center for Research on Interactive Technology, Television, and Children (Ms Cummings and Dr Vandewater), Population Research Center (Dr Vandewater), and Children's Digital Media Center (Dr Vandewater), University of Texas at Austin.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(7):684-689. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.7.684

Objective  To examine the notion that playing video games is negatively related to the time adolescents spend in more developmentally appropriate activities.

Design  Nonexperimental study.

Setting  Survey data collected during the 2002-2003 school year.

Participants  A nationally representative sample of 1491 children aged 10 to 19 years.

Main Outcome Measure  Twenty-four–hour time-use diaries were collected on 1 weekday and 1 weekend day, both randomly chosen. Time-use diaries were used to determine adolescents' time spent playing video games, with parents and friends, reading and doing homework, and in sports and active leisure.

Results  Differences in time spent between game players and nonplayers as well as the magnitude of the relationships among game time and activity time among adolescent game players were assessed. Thirty-six percent of adolescents (80% of boys and 20% of girls) played video games. On average, gamers played for an hour on the weekdays and an hour and a half on the weekends. Compared with nongamers, adolescent gamers spent 30% less time reading and 34% less time doing homework. Among gamers (both genders), time spent playing video games without parents or friends was negatively related to time spent with parents and friends in other activities.

Conclusions  Although gamers and nongamers did not differ in the amount of time they spent interacting with family and friends, concerns regarding gamers' neglect of school responsibilities (reading and homework) are warranted. Although only a small percentage of girls played video games, our findings suggest that playing video games may have different social implications for girls than for boys.