Want to introduce children to video games but afraid the only skill they’ll develop is a quick trigger finger? Fear not. Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, along with colleagues at Paris Descartes University, have found that children who play video games have higher intellectual functioning and are more social.
Researchers studied over 3,100 children from six European Union countries who were between the ages of 6 and 11. According to a news brief from Columbia University, “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.” Most impressive. The original paper can be found in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.
It’s easy to see why video games might be associated with high intellectual functioning. After all, they can encourage creativity, curiosity, logic, strategic planning, and puzzle solving. It’s terrific to see the research confirming this.
But don’t let your precocious child use this news as a way to swap game time with homework: Katherine M. Keyes, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, wrote online, “We caution against over interpretation, however, as setting limits on screen usage remains an important component of parental responsibility as an overall strategy for student success.”
As for increasing a child’s social skills, Keyes wrote, “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.”
So there you have it, parents, when your kid is engrossed in co-opt session of Minecraft, they are in fact being social. Just not with you.