Teens who play excessively often do so at the expense of homework, and playing solo can isolate children from their peers, potentially causing problems for them later in life, said Eric Storch, Ph.D., a University of Florida assistant professor of paediatrics and psychiatry. "Social interactions teach you how to deal with other people as well as what's appropriate and what's not," he said. "You learn how to handle situations. Social interaction is also one way of coping with stress and receiving emotional support."

Serious gamers who spend hours sitting in front of a TV also risk becoming obese and developing associated health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, Storch said. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to limit children's total TV, video game and computer time to two hours each day.

Although gamers lose time to participate in sports and other physical activities, video games are not the sole reason many are not more active, said Elizabeth Vandewater, Ph.D., an assistant professor of human development and family sciences and director of the Center for Research on Interactive Technology, Television and Children at the University of Texas. If the video games were not there, many children would simply find something else to do inside, in part because crime and traffic increasingly hamper their ability to play outside, she said.

Most parents know to watch out for violent and graphic video games, but even educational games may not be as beneficial as they seem in commercials. Many games that claim to be educational are not evaluated to find out if children are actually learning from them, Vandewater said. "Parents need to know they are being marketed to," she said.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Florida