Study results: Video games improve children’s IQ

A two-year study found that children in America who spent time playing video games increased their IQ scores, answering an age-old debate.

A study of American youth found that children who played video games had a measurable increase in IQ scores.

As I mentioned Neuroscience newsThe study by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute found “a positive effect on a change in intelligence from playing on screen, with more time watching digital videos or playing video games leading to greater gains in intelligence.” The researchers also measured the effect of other screen-based activities such as broadcasting, watching television, and socializing online.

The study began with an initial group of nearly 10,000 boys and girls from the United States between the ages of nine and 10. The children were analyzed, tested and given IQ scores, and their families were asked how much time each child spent on different screen-based activities. Two years later, the children were tested again. Although the researchers acknowledge that the wider audience has a “negative association with games” and child development, they conclude that “games positively affect intelligence.” They also noted that these findings are “consistent with the cognitive benefits” found in previous studies on video games.

On average, the study found that children spend 2.5 hours a day watching TV, half an hour on social media, and one hour playing video games. The most significant finding was that “those who played more games than the average increased their IQ…by nearly 2.5 IQ points more than the average.” The researchers said they had a “strong expectation” when entering the study that games would benefit children, and described video games as a “unique” type of digital activity. The report claims that the benefits of games “have intuitive meaning and are consistent with theories of active learning and the power of intentional practice”.

As for the other activities studied, the analysis found no noticeable positive or negative effects from watching videos/TV or socializing. However, many parents may be pleased to know that the research supports the claim that “screen time in general does not impair children’s cognitive abilities”. However, neuroscience professor Tokel Klingberg notes that they “did not examine the effects of screen behavior on physical activity, sleep, well-being, or school performance.”

The findings of this research arrive at a time when US politicians are once again blaming video games for gun violence, and countries like China are restricting children and young people’s access to video games. The Chinese government claims that video games are addictive, harm school performance and impair the “correct set of values”. It remains to be seen whether policy makers in either country will be influenced by scientific research into video games.

source: Neuroscience news

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