Study shows that gamer children have better cognitive performance

Parents often worry about the harmful impacts of video games on their children, from your mental health to social issues to lack of exercise, but a large study published Monday in JAMA Network Open indicates that There are cognitive benefits associated with this popular hobby.

The researchers analyzed the results of cognitive tests and brain imaging of about 2,000 children aged 8 to 9 years divided into 2 groups: those who never played video games and those who played three or more hours a day.

Each group was evaluated on 2 tasks. The first involved seeing arrows pointing to the right or left and asking the children to press the direction of each arrow as fast as they could. They were also asked not to press anything if they saw a «stop» sign, to measure how well they could control their impulses.

In the second task they were shown people’s faces and then asked whether a later displayed image matched or not, to test their working memory.

The children «gamers» were the winners

After using statistical methods to control for variables that could bias the results, such as parental income, IQ and mental health symptoms, the team found that gamers performed better on both tasks.

While they ran the tests, the children’s brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The brains of those who played video games showed more activity in regions associated with attention and memory.

«The findings are consistent that video games improve cognitive skills involving response inhibition and working memory,» the authors concluded in their study.

Excess is still bad for health

Previous research has focused on the negative effects, linking video game playing to depression and increased aggressiveness: “Of course, Excessive use of screen time is bad for overall mental health and physical activity.» clarified the main author of the study Bader Chaarani.

However, these studies were limited by their relatively small number of participants, especially those involving brain imaging, according to the expert.

Future studies could also benefit from knowing the video game genres the kids were playing, though at age 10 they lean towards action games like Fortnite or Assassin’s Creed.

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