Playing video games has unexpected effect on children’s IQ, new study finds

Researchers have linked spending more time playing video games to increased intelligence in children, which partly contradicts the narrative that gaming is bad for young minds.

Although the difference in cognitive abilities is small and not enough to show a causal relationship, it is enough to be notable – and the study was careful to take into account variables such as genetic differences and socio-economic background. – economic of the child.

Meanwhile, watching television and using social media did not appear to have a positive or negative effect on intelligence. The research should prove useful in the debate over how much screen time is right for young minds.

“Digital media defines modern childhood, but its cognitive effects are unclear and hotly debated,” the researchers write in their published article.

“We believe that studies with genetic data could clarify causal claims and correct the generally unconsidered role of genetic predispositions.”

The researchers looked at the screen time records of 9,855 children in the ABCD studyall in the United States and aged 9 or 10. On average, young people reported spending 2.5 hours a day watching television or online videos, 1 hour playing video games and half an hour socializing on the Internet.

The researchers then accessed data from more than 5,000 of those children two years later. During the interim period, those in the study who reported spending more time than the norm on video games saw an increase of 2.5 IQ points above the average increase.

The increase in IQ points was based on the children’s performance on tasks including reading comprehension, visuospatial processing, and a task focusing on memory, thinking flexibility, and self-control.

It is important to note that although the study only looked at children in the United States and did not distinguish between types of video games (mobile games and console games), it is always valuable insight into the game and IQ – and confirms the idea that intelligence is not a fixed constant we are born with.

“Our results support the claim that screen time generally does not impair cognitive abilities in children and that playing video games may in fact help boost intelligence,” says neuroscientist Torkel Klingbergfrom the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

As the researchers note, this is not the first study to suggest that there may be a link between the time children spend playing and the development of their cognitive abilities – and there also appear to be other benefits associated with video games.

The team behind the current research say that small sample sizes, differing study designs, and lack of consideration for genetic and socioeconomic influences have all led to conflicting reports of the effects of dwell time. screen we’ve seen so far. . These are limitations that this study aimed to minimize.

All this to say that there are a lot of factors at play, both in terms of intelligence development and training and the different ways screen time can affect our bodies and our habits. .

“We did not examine the effects of on-screen behavior on physical activity, sleep, well-being, or academic performance, so we cannot comment on this,” says Klingberg.

The research has been published in Scientific reports.


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Carolyn M. Daniel