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New study says video games help with stress relief, socializing, and mental health

Getting home from work and unwinding by playing Battlefield 1 on the Xbox or waking up on Saturday morning to play Splatoon with the kids is now the norm for Australian households. According to a recent study by Bond University and the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) 97 percent of Australian households with children own a video game device with eight out of ten owning multiple.

 

The report Digital Australia 2018 surveyed 1,234 households and 3,135 individuals and found that 67 percent of people are gamers. Dr Jeff Brand, Professor at Bond University and lead author of the report says, “Australians are playing for social connectedness, whether that be with family or friends. They’re playing to reduce stress, to be challenged, to learn, to keep the mind active, or for physical and mental health benefits.”

 

This is backed up by Dr. Jennifer Hazel, founder of the mental health charity Checkpoint, who is researching the mental health benefits of playing video games.

 

She cites the example of people who struggle with social anxiety who have found a community in video games and have found “something they hadn’t been able to experience in the real world and for them that’s as good as a real world friendship, and that has given them the sense of well being they’d been missing.”

Picture: Bond University

Picture: Bond University

She says through asking people questions about what games they play and what they get out of it a lot of people reported they were immersing themselves in rich narrative RPG’s (role playing games) which improved their mood and taught them valuable life lessons they could take back to reality.

 

The study by Bond University and IGEA also found that the the largest group of gamers are older people with 43 percent of people aged 65 years old and over playing video games.

 

Dr. Hazel says that “the more active video game can help older people and particularly older people struggling with mobility to regain a sense of confidence” as well as keeping them mentally alert.

 

The study also found that Australians are highly social when playing games with 92% of players playing with another person and 44% of parents playing online with their children.

 

According to Dr. Hazel statistics continue breakdown the stigma around video games and show that they are a healthy form of entertainment.

 

“Any game you can buy from your high street store can be used in the right way to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression and this something we find really exciting cause these are conditions that are a burden on at least 1 in 3 people at some point in their life,” she says.

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