Finally, something to make parents feel less guilty.
A new study has found that playing video games is good for kids. That’s right – not bad, but good. Apparently, kids who play more video games than other kids are significantly smarter and have better social skills.
The study, carried out by French and American researchers, involved more than 3,000 European children aged between six and 11. The children’s parents and teachers were questioned about their video game use and performance in school, while the children themselves went through a mental health screening.
About 20 per cent of the children played video games for more than five hours a week.
The study found that kids who played more video games were almost twice as likely to be “high intellectual functioning”. They were also less likely to have problems within their peer groups.
Um… why? The researchers suggested it could be because kids often play these type of games with other kids.
"Video game playing is often a collaborative leisure time activity for school-aged children,” said Dr Katherine M. Keyes from the Mailman School of Public Health. “These results indicate that children who frequently play video games may be socially cohesive with peers and integrated into the school community."
Obviously, more research needs to be done. Dr Keyes stresses that parents should still control their kids' screentime.
"Setting limits on screen usage remains an important component of parental responsibility as an overall strategy for student success."
This isn't the first study that's found that playing video games can be a good thing. A 2013 German study found that adults who played Super Mario 64 for half an hour a day for two months showed growth in some parts of their brain. Meanwhile, certain video games have been found to ease ADHD symptoms. One game, Project: EVO, has been developed specifically with ADHD kids in mind, and may soon be prescribed as daily therapy in the US.
Of course, there are also negative research findings about video games. A study published in the UK last year claimed that kids who play these games for more than three hours a day are more likely to be hyperactive, get involved in fights and not be interested in school.
But for now, let's focus on the positives. If you're one of the many parents who let their kids spend a bit of time playing video games, well done. Pour yourself another glass of wine and kick back as you think about how you're making your kids smarter and more sociable.
How much time do your kids spend playing video games?