Worried for your adolescent’s messed up social life due to his addictive gaming habits? Take heart, as teenage gamers can have as many friends as non-gamers, say researchers.

The findings showed that students who are self-identified gamers tend to become friends with one another. In other words, the common interest of digital gaming seems to lead to new friendships at school.

Adolescents also tend to limit and manage their digital gaming in a way that enables them to prioritise what individuals of their age find important, such as friends, sport and school.

For the study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, the team of researchers analysed the manner in which social networks are created and then changed, in 115 first-year upper-secondary school students in a Swedish metropolis.

The results show that neither the adolescents who spend much of their time gaming nor those who self-identify as gamers have fewer school friends than their peers who play little or not at all.

“The results are both surprising and expected. Sure enough, we thought ‘gamers’ would turn out to be making friends with one another,” said Lina Eklund, post-doctoral student at the Uppsala University in Sweden.

“Gaming is such an important part of today’s youth culture that anything else would be odd. Just as adolescents used to get together through shared music tastes, so gaming is now a key element in media consumption.”

Previous studies have also found that indulging in digital gaming activities helps in relaxing and de-stressing the mind and body.