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Gaming linked to greater emotional well-being during aging, according to study

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Older adults who regularly play video games may be happier than their non-gaming contemporaries, according to a recent study from North Carolina State University.

University researchers polled 140 individuals over the age of 63 on their gaming habits, asking if and how often they played video games. From the total, 60 percent reported playing games on occasion or regularly.

Participants were then given a series of tests assessing social functioning and emotional wellness. Results showed that those who played games, both regularly and occasionally, reported a greater sense of well-being. Reports of negative emotions and depression were more common among participants who did not report playing games. The study suggests that these findings mean gaming can have a positive effect on "successful aging."

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

The paper, "Successful aging through digital games: Socioemotional differences between older adult gamers and non-gamers," published this week in the journal Computers and Human Behavior, is also available online. The National Science Foundation supported NC State's research.