Playing Video Games Has an Unexpected Effect on Kids' IQ, Says New Study

Researchers have shown a correlation between children's increased intellect and their increased time spent playing video games, which somewhat refutes the myth that gaming is terrible for developing minds.

Even though the difference in cognitive ability was little and insufficient to demonstrate a causal association, the study took care to account for a variety of factors, including as genetic variations and the child's socioeconomic status.

Social media use and TV viewing, meanwhile, didn't appear to have any beneficial or bad effects on IQ. The study should be helpful in the discussion over how much screen time is appropriate for developing minds.

In their recently released work, the researchers state that "Digital media defines modern childhood, but its cognitive effects are unclear and hotly debated."

We think that research based on genetic information might help to clarify causal statements and account for the frequently overlooked influence of genetic predispositions.

9,855 US-based children between the ages of 9 and 10 who participated in the ABCD Study had screen time data examined by researchers. The young people claimed to spend 2.5 hours a day on TV or online movies, 1 hour on video games, and 30 minutes online socializing.

Two years later, researchers were able to obtain data for more than 5,000 of these kids. Over the intervening time, participants in the research who admitted to playing video games more frequently than usual had an IQ gain of 2.5 points over the average.

The youngsters' performance on tests that included reading comprehension, visual-spatial processing, and one that was centered on memory, flexible thinking, and self-control were what determined the IQ point rise.

It's crucial to note that although though the study only looked at kids in the US and did not distinguish between different kinds of video games (console versus mobile), it still provides vital information on gaming and IQ and supports the notion that intelligence isn't something we have from birth.

According to neurologist Torkel Klingberg of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, "our results support the claim that screen time generally does not impair children's cognitive abilities, and that playing video games can actually help boost intelligence."

The researchers point out that this is not the first study to demonstrate a connection between children's gaming time and the growth of their cognitive skills, and there may be other advantages from video games as well.

Small sample numbers, various study designs, and a lack of consideration for genetic and socioeconomic factors, according to the research team behind the latest study, have all contributed to the inconsistent claims of the impacts of screen time that we've seen thus far. This study tried to reduce those constraints.

All of this means that there are many variables at play, both in terms of how intelligence may grow and shape and in the various ways that screen time may alter our bodies and our habits — so much more study is required.

"We didn't examine the effects of screen behavior on physical activity, sleep, wellbeing, or school performance, so we can't say anything about that," claims Klingberg.

The research has been published in Scientific Reports.