Solna (Sweden) Video games often get a bad rap because many people believe that violence in video games can make you aggressive, although a comprehensive study by Loyola University has disproved this. Critics also claim that video games have a negative impact on intelligence. A study by the Karolinska Institute now proves the opposite. Video games can therefore have a positive effect on children’s intelligence quotient (IQ). The use of social networks and watching TV has neither a positive nor negative effect on children’s intelligence.
According to their publication in the journal Scientific Reports (doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-11341-2), the researchers analyzed data from more than 9,000 schoolchildren from the United States who were taking tests to measure their cognitive ability at the age of nine or ten. In addition, it was recorded how long and how the children spent time in front of screens. More than 5,000 of the subjects took tests again two years after the first psychological tests. It was possible to check whether and how the children’s cognitive abilities had changed.
On average, the subjects spent four hours a day in front of a screen, most of them in front of the television (2.5 hours), followed by video games (1 hour) and social networks (0.5 hours). Children who spent significantly more time playing video games than average were able to increase their IQ by 2.5 points more than the other subjects during the study period.
TV consumption and social networks, on the other hand, have no significant influence on IQ. Thanks to the control groups, genetic differences and the education and income of the parents also have an influence on the result of the study. The study thus shows that screen time in children does not reduce IQ and, in the case of computer games, can even increase it.
However, as study neuroscientist Torkel Klingberg explains, there are a few limiting conditions. According to him, the study only applies to children in the USA because children from other countries were not among the test persons. It should also be noted that the children and the parents logged the screen time themselves. Errors are therefore not unlikely.
In addition, the authors explain that the study did not examine the effects of long periods of screen time on children’s physical health, well-being and academic performance.
However, as psychologist Mona Moisala explains, the positive effects of computer games have only been seen in children who have “a healthy relationship” to them. She qualifies that in response to the studies, parents should not start encouraging their children to play longer. There is no recommendation for how many hours a day a child should ideally spend playing video games. According to her, it is particularly important that the video games do not have a negative effect on time with friends, nutrition, sleep and physical activity.