Children who play video games for up to an hour a day are less hyperactive, more social and happier than those who don't play at all, according to an Oxford University study.
The results contradict widespread concerns that video game use by kids is harmful.
The study, appearing in the journal Pediatrics, looked at boys and girls between 10 and 15 years old and found that playing for as much as an hour a day could actually be beneficial.
The study focused on almost 5,000 kids and compared those who didn't play at all with those who indulged in console games such as Nintendo Wii and Sony Play Stations, or computer-based games.
"Young people who indulged in a little video game-playing were associated with being better adjusted than those who had never played or those who were on video games for three hours or more," the study concluded.
"Those who played video games for less than an hour ... were associated with the highest levels of sociability and were most likely to say they were satisfied with their lives. They also appeared to have fewer friendship and emotional problems, and reported less hyperactivity than the other groups."
Those who played such games for up to three hours a day seemed to show no effects, positive or negative.
But those who played for more than three hours a day did see some harmful effects.
"Games provide a wide range of novel cognitive challenges, opportunities for exploration, relaxation and socialization with peers," the reseachers observed. "Like non-digitally mediated forms of child play, games may encourage child well-being and healthy social adjustment."