While the negative effects of excessive video gaming have been widely reported, a new study has found that playing video games is associated with something positive too.
It turns out that kids who play a lot of video games may be more likely to have better intellectual and social skills than their non-gaming peers.
Conducted by an international team of researchers at Columbia University, the study involved the analysis of mental health data relating to thousands of children aged 6-11 from across Europe.
The data was collected through questionnaires filled out by parents and teachers, and the children responded to the questions through an interactive tool.
Accounting for variations in development explained by the children's ages and genders, the team found that high video game usage was associated with a 1.75 times increase in the odds of high intellectual functioning.
Children who played a lot of video games were also found to be 1.88 times more likely to have “high overall school competence.”
The effect of video games on children's social skills is often a cause for concern, but the team found links between high game usage and better peer relationships and good social skills.
During their analysis, the researchers found no significant associations between gaming and child mental health problems, whether they were reported by parents, teachers, or the children themselves.
“Video game playing is often a collaborative leisure time activity for school-aged children, and these results indicate that children who frequently play video games may be socially cohesive with peers and integrated into the school community,” said Katherine M Keyes, who worked on the study.
However, Keyes urged against over-interpretation of their findings, saying that “setting limits on screen usage remains an important components of parental responsibility as an overall strategy for student success.”
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