Study: Video games do not make you fat, just dumb and depressed

A new study suggests video games aren't the root of all rotundity, but finds they can impact social and academic skills.

Sick of stories about video games making you fatter, slower, dumber, and angrier? Here's one that leans in the other direction, suggesting video games are in fact not driving up childhood obesity rates.

Related articles:

How to snag a gamer girlfriend

In Pictures: the sexiest cosplayers in the galaxy

Q&A with's Christina and Ashlee

Fading Lights: The rise and fall of the video game arcade

Creepy video game fan art Part 2: The Bloodening

The folks behind the study that prompted the story, Michigan State University in East Lansing, are just up the way from me (I'm in Ann Arbor). They took a group of 482 12-year-olds and kept tabs on them for three years. During that time, children as well as their parents answered questions about video game playtime as well as cell phone use. The researchers took into account exam scores, physical characteristics like height and weight, social and economic factors, and actually tested the children's social, mathematical, visual, and reading comprehension skills.

The results? Video games were no more a factor in determining weight or body-mass-index (BMI) than Internet or mobile phone use. In fact the study found the strongest predictors were race, age, and socioeconomic status.

How about an upside, too: Kids who used the Internet more tested higher on standardized reading exams (possibly contradicting contrary research noted in Nicholas Carr's controversial cautionary tale, The Shallows). And kids who played video games more manifested improved visual-spatial skills.

Okay, two downsides: Those who played games more in the study also scored lower in school, and had lower self-esteem.

In the discussion section of the study, the researchers state the social and grade-related negatives suggest that "videogame playing is best construed as a 'solitary' activity...rather tha[n] a social one," and that "[i]t not only undermines academic performance but also the development of social skills needed to achieve a positive social self-concept."

They ultimately conclude -- I think wisely -- that "the potential for the Internet and other information technologies to produce positive or negative outcomes for children and adults encourages more research on if, when and how it results in significant effects."

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags gaminggames

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Peckham

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?