A national study in the US has concluded that computer games foster social interaction and civic engagement and that there was no evidence that they incited users to violence.
The study released on Wednesday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that nearly all teens play video games and that their games' activity has become a major component of their overall social experience.
"This report does a lot of myth-busting," said Amanda Lenhart, the Pew senior researcher who authored the study. "It's not just about 14-year-old boys sitting alone in the basement blowing things up."
The most surprising finding of the study was how all-encompassing video games are today, Lenhart said.
"We don't see economic inequalities, we don't see racial differences," she said. "We see are some slight variations by gender and by age, but that's about it."
The report said it was "the first large-scale study to examine the relationship between specific gaming experiences and civic outcomes."
"For most teens, gaming is a social activity and a major component of their overall social experience. 65 per cent of game-playing teens play with other people who are in the room with them," according to the study.
The study said 99 per cent of boys and 94 percent of girls played video games, while 90 percent of parents said they played video games with their children. The figures were no doubt boosted by the incredible success of Nintendo's Wii video game console, and also by the spread of casual online gaming, in which users can play quick and simple games online.
The study noted that the most popular game played by US teens was Guitar Hero, in which users play a plastic guitar device by hitting correct note sequences of songs. The other most popular games were Halo 3, Madden NFL, Solitaire, and Dance Dance Revolution.
The Pew report is based on a telephone survey of 1,102 teenagers ages 12 to 17 between November 1 and February 5. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.