A new study suggests video games can increase a child’s intelligence over time.
According to a study conducted by the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, children who spend an above-average time playing video games tend to have a higher IQ.
More than 9,000 children aged nine to 10 participated in the study, which was published in Scientific Reports.
They underwent a series of cognitive tests to gauge their level of general intelligence.
Parents were asked how much time their child spends looking at a screen, and it was found that the average was 2.5 hours a day watching TV, half an hour on social media and one-hour playing video games.
After two years, participants were followed up and asked to perform several cognitive tests again and it showed children who dedicated more time to playing video games had increased their intelligence by approximately 2.5 IQ points.
While there was no effect on socialisation, the study found that children who were avid gamers had the ‘the ability to learn effectively, think rationally, understand complex ideas, and adapt to new situations’.
Professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Department of Neuroscience Karolinska Institutet, Torkel Klingberg, said: “Our results support the claim that screen time generally doesn’t impair children’s cognitive abilities, and that playing video games can actually help boost intelligence.
“This is consistent with several experimental studies of video-game playing.”
Dr. Anish Dube, an associate professor of psychiatry at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, also said that video games help children to ‘strategise‘ and apply critical thinking, according to Webmd.
He said: “Video games by design require focus and attention to the content presented and strategising in the moment, whereas it’s easy to watch something on television without paying much attention to the content.
“If you watch a segment on television and miss something, you do not ‘lose’ and can still infer the missed parts based on the remaining narrative. This would be harder to do with video games.”
The study also concluded that watching TV and spending time on social media didn’t positively or negatively affect intelligence.
However, one limitation of the study is that researchers did not distinguish between the types of video games children were playing and how their gaming habits affected their cognitive abilities.
Professor Klingberg also insisted: “We didn’t examine the effects of screen behaviour on physical activity, sleep, wellbeing or school performance, so we can’t say anything about that.”
But the Professor revealed that the institute is now looking at environmental factors and how the cognitive abilities relate to childhood brain development following the study on screen time.