Study finds that video gaming has cognitive benefits for children

Parents are concerned that their children might become addicted to video games. However, a National Institutes of Health study has found that they can help their children with impulse control and cognition.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open on Monday.

Similar findings have been reported in other studies, but this study involves the largest number of children. The study found that children who played video games for more than three hours per day performed better on tasks related to memory and impulse control than those who did not play any video games. Gamers also showed higher

activity in brain areas associated with attention, working memory, and attention.

Researchers note, however, that there is no direct causal link between cognitive enhancements and video games.

This research included data from almost 2,000 9-year-olds and 10-year-olds in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD Study), which follows approximately 12,000 children to conduct the country’s longest-term study on brain development and child health.

The children were divided into two groups in the new study: those who played more than three hours per day and those who did not play. Each group was given two tests to measure impulse control and short-term memory while they were undergoing brain imaging.

Bader Chaarani, the lead researcher in this study, said that researchers had taken into account factors such as sex and age. He said that video gamers performed better on tests and had more brain activations in areas related to attention and working memory.

Chiarini, an assistant professor at the University of Vermont’s Department of Psychiatry, said, “That was very pleasant to see because that’s a means to explain why they performed better.”

Although the study did not distinguish between types of video games, Chaarani pointed out that most children preferred fast-paced action and shooter games to slower-paced logic games such as puzzles.

Chiarini stated that one takeaway is that video gaming should be preferred to television. “Maybe video gaming isn’t worse than watching television.”

Dr. Jenny Radesky from the University of Michigan Medical School’s developmental behavioral pediatrics department stated in an email that “Parents, teens, and parents who see these results should understand that most research suggests that video gaming (like 1-2 hours per weekday) can be linked to better mental health.”

Radesky, who wasn’t involved in the research, said that “we can’t extrapolate this result to assume, however. That more video gaming will lead a better impulse control and working memory in nonscreen contexts such as classrooms or doing chores in your home.” These skills can be improved in naturalistic settings by supporting teachers/caregivers as well as social-emotional skill-building approaches.

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