How the quantity and quality of electronic gaming relates to adolescents’ academic engagement and psychosocial adjustment.


Electronic gaming contexts are now a dominant entertainment medium for young people in the developed and developing world (Lenhart et al., 2008), yet little is known about how distinct doses of gaming exposure may influence adolescents. This research focused on the effects of quantity of play, the amount of time devoted to gaming on a typical day, and quality of play, the kinds of games regularly played, as predictors on teachers’ evaluations of young peoples’ academic engagement and psychosocial functioning. Results derived from a school-based sample of 217 young people indicated that, compared with those who did not play, adolescents who engaged in low levels of gaming, <1 hr a day, evidenced lower levels of hyperactivity and conduct issues whereas the opposite was found for those who gamed for >3 hr a day. Further, the teachers of young people who tended toward playing mainly single-player games reported that these students showed lower levels of hyperactivity and conduct problems, fewer peer and emotional difficulties, as well as higher levels of active academic engagement. Teachers of young people who played cooperative and competitive online games rated these students as more emotionally stable and had better relationships with classmates, a pattern of results that remained in evidence controlling for variance linked to participant sex. Results are discussed in light of a developing and increasingly nuanced literature focused on determining the ways and the extent to which electronic gaming may influence young people.