BOSTON (CBS) – The effect of video games on social development in children may depend on their gender. A new study out of Norway finds that time spent gaming may have more of a detrimental effect on girls than boys.

Researchers followed more than 870 kids from age 6 to age 12. They found that while gaming did not appear to harm the social skills of boys, 10-year-old girls who spent more time gaming had weaker social skills and were less likely to make friends two years later than girls who spent less time gaming.

For many boys, playing video games is an integral part of how they socialize with one another. But fewer girls play video games and those who do may be more socially isolated from their peers. Plus, girls who already struggle socially may be more likely to play video games.

The researchers say that perhaps we should focus less on the gaming itself and more on the reasons why many people spend a lot of their free time playing games.

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