Study finds children who play video games have increased brain function


The morning encounter with Al Tompkins is a daily Poynter briefing of story ideas to consider and other timely context for journalists, written by Senior Professor Al Tompkins. Register here to get it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.

Before you reject the conclusions of this study, know that it was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse and involved more than 2,000 children. The study found that children who played video games for three or more hours a day showed increased cognitive brain function. But the study doesn’t prove that playing games produces better brain function, only that kids who play seem to test themselves better.

The abstract of the study said:

“This study adds to our growing understanding of the associations between playing video games and brain development,” said NIDA Director Nora Volkow, MD. “Numerous studies have linked video games to behavioral and mental health problems. This study suggests that there may also be cognitive benefits associated with this popular pastime that warrant further investigation.

Bader Chaarani, professor at the University of Vermont, says NPR that the study suggests that a few hours of video gaming can be beneficial.

There is obviously a negative outcome that results from prolonged screen time on mental health and physical health. However, if that child spends one, two, or three hours on video games, there may be benefits, as our data suggests. These benefits could not be seen if that child spends or spends time on other forms of screen time, such as texting or watching TV or YouTube, which are considered more forms of passive screen time. .

Axios also summarized some of the findings:

  • The study is inconclusive as to whether games provide cognitive benefits or whether those with cognitive benefits sought out games.
  • “While we can’t say whether playing video games regularly resulted in superior neurocognitive performance, this is an encouraging finding,” said study lead author Bader Chaarani in an NIH report on the results.
  • The researchers also did not test whether the type of game played by children had an impact and encouraged further investigation to see if, for example, action games yield the same results as puzzle games.
  • The report adds to a set of to research suggesting that playing video games, a pastime often dismissed as frivolous, unhealthy or even dangerouscan have health benefits and some games can even be used as medicine.

A federal communications commissioner, Brendan Carr, said it’s time the Council for Foreign Investment in the United States took action that would ban TikTok. Carr’s concern is that the Chinese company, which has 200 million downloads in the United States, is opening up Americans to spying by the Chinese. The US government has paid enough attention to the security issues that American soldiers are banned from app download. In August, The Washington Post reports, the House of Representatives’ chief administrator has warned House staff not to use the “high-risk” app. But many still do.

The FCC does not have the power to regulate TikTok but as Axios points out, Congress listens to the commissioner. Carr told Axios in an interview, “I don’t think there’s a way forward for anything other than a ban.” Other interview highlights:

  • Carr highlighted concerns about US data coming back to China and the risk of a state actor using TikTok to covertly influence political processes in the United States.
  • There simply isn’t “a world in which you could offer enough data protection to have enough confidence that it won’t end up in the hands of the [Chinese Communist Party]”Carr said.
  • Carr letters sent to Apple and Google in June asking the companies to remove the apps from their stores over concerns about data flowing back to China.

All of this may sound familiar. In 2020, President Trump tried to ban TikTok, then changed his mind and said it should be sold to an American buyer. Neither happened. The Washington Post produces a deep dive into conflict.

As if finding an affordable apartment wasn’t already difficult enough, the new challenge is that scammers scam people, forcing them to send a security deposit or rent deposit for units that don’t exist or that the scammer doesn’t own.

The Federal Trade Commission describes how some scams work:

Some scammers hijack a property rental or property ad by changing the email address or other contact information and placing the altered ad on another site. The edited ad can even use the name of the person who posted the original ad. In other cases, scammers have hacked into owners’ email accounts on reputable vacation rental websites.

Other scammers build listings for places that aren’t for rent or don’t exist and try to lure you in with the promise of low rent or great amenities. Their goal is to get your money before you know it.

The FTC has some tips on how to avoid getting picked up by scammers.

The Marshall Project presents us with an example of the type of reporting I wish more newsrooms would attempt. The Marshall project investigated the Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Cleveland) court system and learned:

The vast majority of defendants appearing in Cuyahoga County courtrooms are not there for the first time. A new analysis from The Marshall Project found that nearly 70% of the county’s nearly 70,000 criminal cases from 2016 through the end of 2021 featured a defendant with at least one prior charge on file. Nearly a third of county court cases involve defendants with five or more prior criminal cases — and (Deshawn) Maines has had more than 30 cases since the early 1990s.

Analysis shows that many of these defendants are not hardened and violent criminals. Police and prosecutors warn that trying defendants solely on the crimes for which they have been convicted may underestimate their dangerousness, given the number of people who accept plea deals for lesser crimes than those for which they have been convicted. were originally charged. Yet in both cases, most of these defendants are not charged with committing serious violent crimes that would result in long sentences. Instead, they go to court every year or two to face the kinds of charges that land them probation or brief stints in jail. They serve their sentence and are released, then find themselves in court again on similar criminal charges.

(The Marshall Project)

The numbers show that prisons and prisons are not effective in stopping people from re-offending.

Analysis shows that these defendants first encounter the justice system as teenagers or young adults – the vast majority of them first faced criminal charges before the age of 25 – typically for crimes such as drug possession, petty theft, burglary, breaking and entering, or receiving stolen property. In many cases, their entire criminal record contains only these types of offences, committed repeatedly between periods of incarceration.

Data from the Marshall Project show the need for a more specialized response to criminal behavior, for example, drug courts trying to find treatment programs for people with drug addictions rather than sending them to prison, without treatment. These defendants tend to be released from incarceration only to commit more serious crimes.

A former prosecutor compared the result to the lesson of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo: Once you’re in the system, there’s no escaping it. “Once you have a felony conviction on your record,” said Cullen Sweeney, the county’s chief public defender, “everything is more difficult for you.”

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Carolyn M. Daniel