Gaming might not be as bad for the health as once thought, as new research has shown it might benefit overall well-being.

Despite video games having a bad reputation, a team from the University of Oxford have discovered that playing could improve mental health.

In order to investigate the relationship between game play behaviour and mental health, the researchers compared Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville and Animal Crossing: New Horizons with each other.

More than 3,000 people took part in the study, which is believed to be the first trial that combined actual play-time data with psychological questionnaires that links the amount of time spent playing the games.

Previous studies has focussed on people self-reporting their gaming time, which weakened the overall findings.

For the latest study, the researchers found that players who experienced genuine enjoyment for the games benefitted from a mental health boost.

Speaking to the MailOnline, Professor Andrew Przybylski, lead author of the study and director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, said: “Our findings show video games aren’t necessarily bad for your health; there are other psychological factors which have a significant effect on a person’s wellbeing.

“In fact, play can be an activity that relates positively to people’s mental health – and regulating video games could withhold those benefits from players.”

The researchers hope their findings will help develop better evidence-based guidelines in regard to gaming and digital use.

Professor Przybylski said: “Through access to data on peoples’ playing time, for the first time we’ve been able to investigate the relation between actual game play behaviour and subjective wellbeing, enabling us to deliver a template for crafting high-quality evidence to support health policymakers.”

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