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Modern children often play video games for hours on end, and it has long been a widely debated topic whether gaming has a negative impact on children’s well-being and cognitive abilities.
A recent study suggests that playing video games may benefit kids’ intelligence. The researchers from Sweden found that on average children spent two and a half hours watching TV and online videos, half an hour socializing online, and one hour playing video games.
Study authors followed up with these children two years later and asked them to repeat the original intelligence tests. The results showed that children who spent more time playing video games boosted their intelligence by 2.5 IQ points more than the average. Watching TV or browsing social media showed neither a positive nor a negative effect on children’s cognitive abilities.
"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”, says Torkel Klingberg, co-author of the research. However, the screen time was self-reported, so the results of this finding should be taken with a grain of salt.
It is worth pointing out that the researchers did not make a distinction between various game genres. But video games are different, varying from first-person shooters to strategies and puzzles, and many of them have a lot to offer. There are games that encourage kids to create and use their imagination. Some games can spark children’s interest in world history, geography and culture.
While excessive gaming might be bad for players’ health, studies have shown games may impact people’s health in a positive way. For example, the game EndeavorRX has become the first-ever video game to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a medical treatment for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
So, is gaming a bad or a good thing? Are video games just a huge drain on time or can they be used to enhance intelligence and improve attention skills? Well, apparently as with any tool, gaming can be viewed as good or evil depending on how it is used.