OBJECTIVE: To provide mental health professionals with an up-to-date review of the literature regarding the effects of playing video games on the well-being of children. METHOD: A computerized literature search of MEDLINE and PSYCHINFO of all articles written in English from 1966 to 1996 was performed. The various studies are organized into different sections. RESULTS: Playing video games is associated with a variety of physical effects including increased metabolic and heart rate, seizures, and tendinitis. Aggressive behaviour may result from playing video games, especially among younger children. There is no direct relationship between psychopathology or academic performance and playing video games. CONCLUSIONS: Video games have some adverse effects, but they are also valuable learning tools. Research about the role of video games is inadequate. The data are also limited by the lack of long-term studies and inconsistent findings.
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