Can video games boost the cognitive development of children?

A recent study of American children conducted with nearly 10,000 participating children and published in “Scientific Report” shows changes in their cognitive performance depending on the time they spend on video games. — Photo by Thomson Reuters Foundation

Monday, May 30, 2022 10:37 PM MYT

NEW YORK, May 30 — Researchers have found that children between the ages of eight and 12 who play video games perform better on various tests associated with intelligence and cognitive development.

Can video games play a role in the development of children’s intellectual abilities? A recent study of American children with nearly 10,000 child participants and published in Scientific reports shows the evolution of their cognitive performance according to the time spent on video games.

Aged 8 to 10, the young participants were followed for more than two years. The study also looked at children’s use of social media. The researchers found no correlation with intelligence and no negative impact on participants’ academic performance.

To define the concept of intelligence in children, research is based on several characteristics such as “the ability to learn effectively, to think rationally, to understand complex ideas and to adapt to new situations”. Overall, the study indicated that playing video games can help children adapt to situations quickly, understand complex ideas, and solve problems more creatively.

Better performance among video game players

To reach their conclusions, the researchers compared groups of “gamers” and “non-gamers”. Children participated in a multitude of ‘tasks’ or exercises testing vocabulary, attention, memory and reading and listening comprehension. The results showed better performance of children who played video games, even for those who spent several hours a day playing them.

For many years, the benefits and dangers of video games have been the subject of intense debate. In the early 2000s, especially after the Columbine massacre, several politicians of different nationalities pointed the finger at video games as being responsible for an increase in violence among young people. Since then, many studies have shown that there was no correlation between games and violence and even tended to indicate cognitive benefits from playing video games.

The omnipresence of digital devices and the proliferation of their uses in all aspects of life mean that children also increasingly find themselves in front of a screen.

In 2020, a study by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry estimated that the average time children ages 8 to 12 spend on screens is between four and six hours a day.

Whether it is for playing, learning, watching or socializing, digital media has taken a prominent place in our lives. The succession of hours on the screens can cause sleep disturbances, visual fatigue or even neglecting physical activities. However, many researchers remain convinced of the benefits of video games in learning. — Studio ETX

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