Can Playing Video Games Improve Children's IQ?

Xiaobai Software  2022-06-11 13: 25  read 124 views

Research and data have come a long way, but many questions remain to be determined when it comes to what exactly constitutes intelligence, and how or whether it can be accurately measured.


It's an age-old question: If your kids play video games, will their IQs increase? A May 2022 report is one of the few that claims to have the answer.Let's dig a little deeper:

The relationship between games and intelligence is delicate

Academics, parents, students, and gamers have a long history of asking whether video games make us smarter, hurt our intelligence, have an impact on both, or not.The findings are mixed.There are many reasons for this.

First, there are a lot of questions about what a video game is.Should mobile games and console games fall into the same category?What about puzzle games and shooters?Does online multiplayer have a different impact than solo games?Furthermore, a person's day includes so many activities that it is difficult to isolate gaming as a single variable.

If one child enjoys both video games and learning, and the other child hates both, does that mean video games help intelligence?If one child is more likely to play video games because the family is financially better off than another, how much of the difference in intelligence comes from gaming and how much comes from different economic opportunities?

What is intelligence?Is it a transcript?IQ test?what else?Even this is debatable. The authors of a scientific report published in the journal Nature in May 2022 claim that they are at least one step closer to answering some of these questions.

The impact of digital media on children's intelligence

The paper, titled "The effect of digital media on children's intelligence while controlling for genetic differences in cognition and socioeconomic background," corrects its findings on genetics and parental education.This is important because, according to the authors, "intelligence, education, and other cognitive abilities are highly heritable."

While some may dispute the claim that intelligence is genetically determined, the authors also took parental education into account.While education level is not necessarily linked to household income, it is arguably a good proxy for complex socioeconomic data.

The study included baseline information on nearly 1 U.S. children ages 9 to 10 and followed more than half of them after two years.The researchers also looked at "polygenic scores" to account for "genetic differences."

Positive effects of games on intelligence


The authors analyzed "screen time," including time spent watching videos, playing video games, and engaging in social media.It also analyzed intelligence using five measures of intelligence.The result is as follows:

"At baseline, time spent watching and socializing was inversely associated with intelligence, while gaming was not. After two years, gaming had a positive effect on intelligence, but not socialization (...) Unexpectedly , watching videos also has positive intellectual benefits."

The paper further says that not only is the game itself positively correlated, but the time of the game is also positively correlated.In other words, more games mean better cognitive abilities.Although we can be skeptical about this.

The study's authors were the first to point out some of the problems in their report, as any group of responsible researchers should.Some of these problems are the ones we mentioned above that plague all this kind of research.

Potential problems in research


Screen Time information comes from survey data.It was impossible for the researchers to know whether the reported games were smartphone games, console games, online games or offline games.Additionally, survey data is often confronted with respondents filtering their answers to make themselves appear "better".If parents want to look cooler or stricter, they may misreport data.

There are also some issues that the authors did not mention.The tests used to determine intelligence do not include "IQ" tests.They include word and image recognition, memory, spatial reasoning, audio responses, and other similar metrics.However, they did not include indicators of language comprehension, mathematics, logic and other factors one might expect.

Arguably, the authors define intelligence as "the skill of playing video games" and then determine that playing video games improves intelligence.It could also explain some of their cryptic findings, such as why video improves "intelligence," but social networking doesn't.

Watching video is more helpful for image recognition and audio responses, which are tested, while social media is more helpful for improving intelligence through language comprehension, reasoning, and other metrics that have not been tested.

How do other researchers study games and intelligence?

Other similar studies have shown this and have come up with mixed results on gaming and intelligence. A 2015 study on gaming and intelligence published in SAGE Journals had similar results using a similar test, but "when the analysis looked at all subjects at the task level and underlying framework level, nearly all video games The relationship between experience and cognitive ability is close to zero."

Intelligence is a multifaceted concept, and researchers on both sides have carefully selected which elements of intelligence might be relevant to video games.And in the introduction, the authors of the 2022 study did say that they were already looking forward to their study showing a correlation between video games and intelligence.

healthy game

So, can playing video games improve a child's IQ?The answer to every good yes or no question is "somewhat"

Video games can improve some aspects of intelligence, but not others.Like most other things in life, video games are healthy in moderation.But they are not a substitute for learning.


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