Playing video games can reduce depressive symptoms, study finds

We’ve heard it all before; video games are why kids are so violent these days, make people sick, and brainwash you from facing reality. Well, it turns out video games may in fact be good for your mental health.

As with previous reports on the UK holding clinical trials over safe drug usage to treat depression, the country really does appear to be dedicated to serious mental health research. The latest comes with a heavy spin towards video games.

A recent research article published by Cambridge University Press on February 19, 2021 revealed that male teens who played video games frequently were 24.2% less likely to develop depressive symptoms.

games and depression

Approximately 11,341 adolescents aged 11 participated in the survey. More specifically, both male and female subjects had their digital activities monitored as part of the study on prospective associations with video games, social media, and the internet. Over a span of three years, both boys and girls had their gaming habits investigated. The outcome?

Boys who played games at least once a week were found to have have a 24.2% lower likelihood to exhibit depressive symptoms. Meanwhile, males who had monthly or even sparser sessions reported 25.1% and 31.2% respectively. Despite these seemingly tight-figured statistics, it just goes to show that video games aren’t just “bad sources of entertainment that encourage violence and addiction”.


Another interesting observation from this study was the fact that male adolescents with lower rates of physical activity that consistently gamed alluded to fewer cases of depression. On the other hand, gaming sessions didn’t really affect the boys categorised to have high levels of physical activity.

However, while gaming itself wasn’t associated with declining mental health in 11 to 14 year olds, the internet was cited to be a cause for symptoms of depression to arise. That’s understandable – it is inevitable to encounter some toxic individuals lurking the great, dark web at least once in a while.

This research comes as a result of the stringent Millennium Cohort Study, which originates from the Centre of Longitudinal Studies in London, UK. They are part of the University College London network and conduct plenty of research into the youth across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

To date, they have produced hundreds of insight-driven reports into the lifestyles of UK youth and identified key issues affecting them – including drugs, family and of course, the complex relationship between adolescents and screen time.

Either way, this latest publication by Cambridge University is yet another wake up call that games shouldn’t cop the flak for all the violence and vices it’s often associated with in mainstream media. Throughout the decades, much of the public have used games as a scapegoat for societal tragedies that occur. Notable examples include former US president Donald Trump blaming first-person shooters for the mass shooting in America despite scientific research saying otherwise.

Ultimately, it is the people themselves that bear responsibility for their actions. It’s not simply because we live in a society.

Besides, even pigs are playing video games nowadays. It’s high time for broader society to stop fearing games and start appreciating them instead.