Parents often consider them a waste of time, but playing video games can actually boost children’s intelligence.
One study found that those who played an average of three hours or more per day outperformed their peers on cognitive and memory tests.
Gaming has long been associated with violence, antisocial behavior and health problems among young people.
But researchers have found that it may even be beneficial for children’s brain development.
Young people had their brains scanned as they took a series of tests that tested their reaction time, problem solving and memory.
Not only did the children get better scores, they were also more active in the brain regions responsible for each function.
dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which funded the study, said: “Numerous studies have linked video gaming to behavior and mental health problems.
“This study suggests that there may also be cognitive benefits associated with this popular pastime, which are worthy of further investigation.”
Researchers found that children ages nine to 10 who played an average of three hours or more per day performed better on cognitive and memory tests (file photo)
It is estimated that more than six in ten children in the US and UK play video games.
In the study – published today in the journal JAMA network opened — University of Vermont scientists analyzed data from 2,078 American children.
Children were asked how long they played video games each day and were then divided into two groups.
In all, 1,278 said they never played video games, while 800 reported using them for at least three hours a day.
Gaming ‘can be DEAD for children’
They are popular because they get the adrenaline flowing, while they don’t pose a war risk.
But playing action-packed games like Call of Duty could be deadly for kids with heart conditions, scientists warn.
Electronic gaming can cause life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias in children with no history of health problems, according to a historical study.
Experts said adrenaline rushes from the excitement of playing can be deadly for some young people with often undiagnosed heart problems.
Researchers from The Heart Center for Children, Sydney, Australia, studied the cases of 22 children who suddenly lost consciousness while playing video games.
They found that multiplayer war gaming was the most common trigger, resulting in an “emotionally charged” state in players.
Some children died after cardiac arrest in which several arrhythmias were later diagnosed, leaving the surviving children at lasting risk if they continued to play.
In comparison, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) says that children should not play more than two hours a day.
Each child was given a functional MRI scan to measure their brain activity.
In the scan, the participants lay face up inside a long tubular magnet and wore digital glasses that resemble a VR headset.
They completed two tests, which were shown to them using the glasses.
In the first — known as a stop signal task — participants looked at arrows pointing left or right and pressed a corresponding button when they saw them.
They were also told not to press anything when presented with an up arrow.
In the second — known as a ‘n-back’ test — kids were asked to memorize a picture of a building and then press a button when they saw a match for it in a set of cards they saw. got to see.
In the arrow test, response times were significantly faster in gamers than in non-gamers.
It took 307 milliseconds (ms) for non-gamers to stop when they saw an upward pointing arrow on average, compared to 299ms for non-gamers.
They also took about 550 ms to press the right button after seeing a left or right arrow, compared to 515 ms in the gamers group.
In the image test, non-gamers needed 1070 ms to press the button and said they had seen a match, while gamers needed 1021 ms.
There are 1000 milliseconds in one second.
Scans showed that, on average, children who played video games had more activity in the precuneus region of the brain – associated with attention and memory.
They also had more activity in the gyri — which may also be associated with impulse suppression — than those in the non-gaming group.
The researchers said that playing the games can improve attention and impulse control because the games need to practice these skills.
The chart above shows response times among gamers (orange) and non-gamers (blue). Graph A shows the time it takes to stop in a test, while Graph B shows the time it takes to take an action after a particular stimulus is shown. Graph D shows the time it took to indicate a match after showing one image matching another they had to remember
The above is the job test of the stop signal. At the top, you can see how the scientists tried to measure the time it took to see a cue — an arrow pointing left or right — to the time it took to press the corresponding button. In the second test, they measured the time it took children to stop when they saw an upward-pointing arrow
dr. Bader Chaarani, a psychiatrist at the University of Vermont who led the study, said, “Many parents today are concerned about the effect of video games on their children’s health and development.
“As these games continue to spread among young people, it is critical that we better understand both the positive and negative impact of such games.”
He added: “While we cannot say whether regular video game play induces superior neuro-cognitive performance, it is an encouraging finding that we should continue to study in these children as they transition into adolescence and adulthood.”
The study was observational, meaning it couldn’t prove whether the improved intelligence was due to video games or some other factor.
It also didn’t split games into categories — like action or strategy — or whether they were single-player or multiplayer, which could affect the results.
Children were recruited for the study from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which follows children to study its effects on brain development.
The data was analyzed between October 2019 and October 2020.