“Far from feeling guilty about being absorbed by their phone, people who play such games after a stressful day at work should know they are likely to be gaining a real benefit,” explains study co-author Professor Anna Cox in a release.
While smartphone video games aren’t usually associated with stress relief, researchers say they check off all four factors associated with post-work recovery and relaxation: they are generally relaxing, they provide players an opportunity to learn a new skill, they are immersive and provide a fun distraction from the pressures of everyday life, and they allow the player to feel completely in control.
“To protect our long-term health and well-being, we need to be able to unwind and recuperate after work. Our study suggests playing digital games can be an effective way to do this,” says lead author Dr Emily Collins.
Interestingly, researchers also noted that the more a participant seemed to enjoy playing the smartphone game, the greater benefit it provided in terms of post-work recovery.