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Video games may unexpectedly affect children’s IQ

Video games will increase the IQ of children! A group of researchers came to this unexpected conclusion after analyzing data from 5,000 children in the United States. Their results were published in Scientific Reports.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the amount of screen time has increased dramatically. Therefore, modern children are more influenced by digital media. What is the impact of these media on children? A group of researchers joined the ABCD (Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development) study to find answers. This study collected data on the development of the brains of more than 11,500 children during adolescence.

How to evaluate the impact of screens on children and teenagers?

Based on these data, the researchers began a longitudinal analysis (study over time) comparing the cognitive development of the infants involved. Their purpose? Determine the impact on IQ of hours spent watching TV or video, watching social media, and playing video games.

See also: What is the highest IQ of all time? To date, the highest intelligence quotient (IQ) ever measured is…

To determine the impact of these three activities, the researchers followed nearly 10,000 children between the ages of 9 and 10. First, they looked at average screen time. It was one hour for video games and two and a half hours respectively for television and social media.

Two years later, the children were again questioned about their behavior. The researchers also took the opportunity to test their cognitive abilities. How to evaluate them? Several criteria are taken into account. For example, reading comprehension, visuospatial processing, or memory. Behavioral abilities such as flexibility, persistence, or self-control were also assessed.

What is the real impact of video games on IQ?

Several criteria can affect a child’s IQ. Like family genetics or even the socio-economic environment in which they develop. Therefore, in order to know the impact of video games, researchers also measure these variables.

Until now, most studies of the impact of digital media on children and adolescents have not taken these variables into account. Therefore, it was difficult to establish causal relationships between media consumption and cognition or behavior.

“Digital media is pervasive in today’s childhood, but its cognitive effects are unclear and the subject of lively debate,” the study authors describe.

Video games can increase IQ by 2.5 points.

Two years after the first assessment, data from 5,000 children could be tracked. For those who spent more than an hour playing video games, IQ increased by 2.5 points. The study established a link between the development of adolescent intelligence and the time spent playing video games. Does this also apply to social media and television? Nope! Time spent on social media and watching TV had no positive or negative impact on cognitive development.

Researchers suggest that this is due to the passive nature spent watching TV. Especially when compared to the commitment and reflection required for video games. However, researchers have found that broadcasting educational content has beneficial effects on children’s intelligence. Good news for those who grew up on “C’est pas Sorcier!” »

“Our results support the contention that screen time does not generally impair children’s cognitive performance and that video games may actually enhance intelligence,” says neuroscientist and study co-author Thorkel Klingberg of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. in a press release.

How to explain this result? Correlative studies show that video games train visual processing and attention skills. The meta-analysis also found that video game players had better cognitive executive functions, such as verbal and spatial working memory, than non-gamers. However, it should be noted that these studies also revealed the negative impact of video games on cognitive aspects.

The impact of video games: can we generalize?

Genetic inheritance and socioeconomic status are obviously not the only factors that can influence the development of intelligence in adolescents. Physical activity, rest and sleep patterns, academic performance, and much more were not taken into account. The researchers also note that the sample size, although significant, is far from representative. Finally, it is important to note that the study only focuses on children in the United States.

Taking the results of this study and its limitations with caution, it is safe to say that this study is groundbreaking. On the one hand, taking into account certain variables such as genetics and socioeconomic status. On the other hand, it calls into question the idea that playing video games for many hours is bad for a child’s development. Indeed, there is scientific literature that talks about the negative effects of video games. But in any case, the present study was able to identify a positive and significant correlation between intelligence and video games in the analyzed subjects.

Originally published on 05/23/2022

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