Contrary to popular belief, playing video games can in fact enhance intellectual functioning and improve social skills, especially at a young age. A new study, conducted by an international team of researchers from Columbia University and published in the journal “Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology”, attests to that. The study focuses mainly on the positive influence playing video games exerts on children between ages of six and 11 from across Europe.
The children’s mental health was assessed by having parents and teachers fill out questionnaires and the children respond through an interactive tool. Teachers were also asked to rate the children’s academic functioning.
The team of researchers assessed the association between the amount of time spent playing video games and children’s mental health and cognitive and social skills and discovered that playing video games may have positive effects on young children. More precisely, they found that high usage was associated with 1.75 times the odds of high intellectual functioning and 1.88 times the odds of high overall school competence. What’s more, regular video game playing was linked to a decrease in peer relationship problems and in prosocial deficits, the study finds.
“Video game playing is often a collaborative leisure time activity for school-aged children. These results indicate that children who frequently play video games may be socially cohesive with peers and integrated into the school community. 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”, says Katherine M. Keyes, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and one of the authors of the study.
This is not the first study that draws attention to the positive effects of video game playing. Other studies, such as this one published in the same journal, reports on the link between video games and enhanced visual memory recall.