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Gears of War Grandpa? Video Games May Help Boost Seniors' Mental Health

Update Date: Mar 06, 2013 11:34 AM EST

It may seem that a video game habit is just a waste of time. After all, there are indeed more constructive things that a person can be doing instead of playing video games. However, adding to the list of benefits that playing video games can have, researchers have found that people who play video games well into their twilight years enjoy higher levels of emotional well-being.

Researchers from North Carolina State University surveyed 140 participants over the age of 63, with the average age of participants hovering at about 78. All of the participants lived independently.

They asked them how often they played video games, if at all, and gave them a battery of tests assessing their emotional and social well-being. A surprising 61 percent of seniors said that they played video games at least occasionally, with 35 percent reporting that they played video games at least once a week.

The research found that seniors who played video games, even just occasionally, reported higher levels of well-being. The seniors who never played video games reportedly had lower levels of well-being as well as high levels of depression. In general, seniors who played video games were more social, better adjusted and less likely to be depressed, according to Geekosystem.

"The research published here suggests that there a link between gaming and better well-being and emotional functioning," Dr. Jason Allaire, the lead author of the paper that details the study and an associate professor of psychology at NC State, said in a statement issued by the university. "We are currently planning studies to determine whether playing digital games actually improves mental health in older adults. "

The study did not mention what video games seniors enjoyed playing. However, previous reports have surfaced about the love that senior citizens have for the Nintendo Wii system.

Indeed, the Wii has been linked to a wide variety of medical benefits, according to NPR. Studies have surfaced on the gaming console helping teach students CPR, aid with physical therapy and even assisting surgeons with preparation for laproscopic surgery.

The study was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

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