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Playing games may make children smarter

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We’re constantly hearing about how video games are evil – how they’ll send children down a path that’ll lead to them becoming deranged sociopaths lacking empathy or social awareness. Games are evil, and if you’re a parent, letting them play these tools of the devil will ultimately end in catastrophe.

Only that may not be the case. A new study by  study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and colleagues at Paris Descartes University tested the effects of moderate video game playing on  3,195 children between the ages of 6 and . Those children were then assessed on their academic performance, video game usage and behaviour.

The study found that those who played games more had higher intellectual competence, and performed better at school.

“After adjusting for child age, gender, and number of children, the researchers found that high video game usage was associated with a 1.75 times the odds of high intellectual functioning and 1.88 times the odds of high overall school competence.”

Dispelling the myth of the social awkward gamer, the study reckons gaming is social by nature.

“Video game playing is often a collaborative leisure time activity for school-aged children,” Dr. Katherine Keyes, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, said via press release. “These results indicate that children who frequently play video games may be socially cohesive with peers and integrated into the school community.”

That said, don’t use this as an excuse to play games all day.

“We caution against over interpretation, however, as setting limits on screen usage remains and important component of parental responsibility as an overall strategy for student success,” Keyes said.

Of course, this is just the sort of thing that we gamers want to hear, serving as a bit of confirmation bias. We all like to think that playing games has had no ill effect on us, and we also like to think we’re just that little bit cleverer than everybody else.

Last Updated: March 9, 2016

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