Playing Video Games Has an Unexpected Effect on Kids' IQ, Says New Study

Researchers have disproved the myth that video games are bad for developing brains by finding a link between children's improved intellect and how much time they spend playing them.

Even while the difference in cognitive capacity was small and not strong enough to show a cause-and-effect relationship, it was noticeable enough to be noted, and the study made sure to take into consideration factors like parenting style and genetics.

On the other hand, social media use and TV watching did not seem to have any impact on IQ. The results should be useful in the debate over how much screen time is suitable for developing children's minds.

The researchers wrote in their analysis that "digital media characterizes modern infancy, yet its cognitive impacts are obscure and widely discussed."

"We feel that genetic data studies might help to clarify causation claims and account for the often overlooked function of genetic predispositions."

9,855 children in the ABCD Study who were 9 or 10 years old and resided in the United States had their screen time data reviewed by the researchers. The children said that, on average, they watch TV or view videos online for 2.5 hours a day, play video games for an hour, and use the internet for half an hour.

Researchers examined data for nearly 5,000 of those children two years later. Those whose video game playing time above the average increased their IQ by 2.5 points throughout the duration of the study.

The children's success on reading comprehension, visual-spatial processing, memory, flexible thinking, and self-control tasks provided the basis for their increase in IQ.

The study, which focused solely on children in the US and did not differentiate between mobile and console game genres, still offers important insights into the relationship between gaming and IQ and lends credence to the idea that intelligence isn't a set trait that we all possess from birth.

According to neurologist Torkel Klingberg of the Karolinska Institute, "Our results support the claim that screen time does not impair children's cognitive capacities generally and that playing video games can really assist increase intellect."

The researchers note that there appear to be other benefits to playing video games in addition to the association between children's gaming time and cognitive capacity that has been shown in previous studies.

The researchers claim that the contradictory findings about the effects of screen time that have been discovered thus far are a result of small sample sizes, a variety of study designs, and a failure to take genetic and socioeconomic variables into account. These are the limitations that this study tried to solve.

All of this suggests that a great deal more research is necessary since there are a lot of variables at play when it comes to how intelligence grows and develops as well as the different ways that screen time impacts our bodies and habits.

"We didn't look at the impacts of screen time on physical activity, sleep, wellness, or school achievement," says Klingberg.