Do video games make kids smarter?

Researchers claim that children between the ages of 8 and 12 who play video games perform better in many tests synonymous with intelligence and cognitive development.

Do video games enable children to develop their intelligence? A recent US study, published in Scientific Reports and conducted on nearly 10,000 children, shows an evolution in the latter’s cognitive performance depending on the time they spend playing video games.

Between the ages of 8 and 10, the young participants were followed for more than two years. The study also looked at the use of social networks by these children. The researchers found no correlation with intelligence, nor any negative impact on participants’ academic performance.

To define the concept of intelligence in children, research is based on various characteristics such as memory, attention, reasoning, processing speed or spatial manipulation of an object. Overall, the study states that the use of video games allows children to adapt quickly to situations, understand complex ideas and solve problems with greater creativity.

Better performance for gamers

To obtain these results, the researchers compared groups of “gamers” and “non-gamers.” The children took part in a variety of tests such as exercises in vocabulary, attention, memory and even written and oral comprehension. The results showed better performance for children who play video games, even those who spend several hours a day on them.

For many years, the pros and cons of video games have been hotly debated. In the early 2000s, especially after the Columbine massacre, several politicians of different nationalities pointed out that video games were responsible for an increase in youth violence. Since then, many studies have shown that there is no link between games and violence and even found cognitive benefits from playing video games.

The proliferation of digital devices and their use has inevitably reached children. In 2020, a study by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry estimated the average time children ages 8 to 12 spend on screens between 4 and 6 hours a day. Whether playing, learning, watching or socializing, digital media has taken a prominent place in our lives. The order of hours on the screens can cause sleep disturbances, visual fatigue or neglect of physical activities. However, many researchers remain convinced of the benefits of video games in learning.

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