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Scientists say playing video games can boost kids’ IQ

Psychological tests were given to 9,000 boys and girls aged 9 or 10 in the USA.

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By Tom Campbell via SWNS.

Gaming boosts kids' IQ and they don't get the same effect from watching TV or scrolling through social media, scientists have found.

Portrait of happy African American father and son sitting in sofa couch and playing console video games together at home. Family and technology concept.
Those who played more games boosted their intelligence by approximately 2.5 IQ points more than the average. (Mix Tape/Shutterstock)

Children who spend more time playing video games see greater intelligence gains as they get older, according to the new study.

Digital technology has increased the amount of time people spend looking at screens, in particular the younger generations.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids ages 8-18 now spend, on average, a whopping 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment each day, 4.5 of which are spent watching TV.

Many parents have expressed concerns that screens are having a negative impact on their kids' well-being and mental health.

But now scientists in Sweden have found some activities involving screens could be beneficial.

Author Professor Torkel Klingberg at the Karolinska Institutet said: "We didn’t examine the effects of screen behavior on physical activity, sleep, wellbeing or school performance, so we can’t say anything about that.

"But 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.

"This is consistent with several experimental studies of video-game playing.”

A series of psychological tests were given to 9,000 boys and girls aged nine or ten in the United States to measure their mental abilities.

via GIPHY

The children and their parents were also asked about how much time kids spent watching TV, playing games and using social media.

Some 5,000 participants were asked to repeat the psychological tests two years later to see whether their test results had improved.

Genetic differences known to affect intelligence and the parents' educational background and income were also taken into account.

Children spent on average two and half hours watching TV, half an hour on social media and one hour playing video games.

Those who played more games boosted their intelligence by approximately 2.5 IQ points more than the average, the researchers found.

No positive or negative effects were observed from watching TV or spending time on social media.

Their findings support recent research which shows intelligence is not a constant, rather it is influenced by environmental factors.

Prof Klingberg said: "We’ll now be studying the effects of other environmental factors and how the cognitive effects relate to childhood brain development."

The study did not however look at the different types of video games, like role-playing, first-person shooters, or strategy games.

It also only looked at children in the US, which means the results may not apply in other countries where kids have different gaming habits.

Finally, the researchers relied on parents and children accurately reporting how much time they spent looking at screens.

The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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