Illinois State University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Houston have jointly published a study on the impact of video games on children’s cognitive abilities. While many parents worry about the negative effects of video games on their children, research has surprisingly shown that there is no correlation between video games and children’s cognitive performance.
In this joint research, we investigated the gaming habits of 160 preteen children (mainly 9 to 11 years old) attending public schools. Cognitive ability was assessed using the CogAT (Cognitive Ability Test), which is known as a standardized cognitive ability test, rather than the teacher grades and self-reported learning assessments used in previous studies.
The children studied played video games for an average of 2.5 hours per day, and the longest group played video games for 4.5 hours, which was significantly associated with verbal, numerical, and nonverbal/spatial skills on the CogAT. No correlation was found. The type of game played also had no effect on test results.
This could be good news for parents worried about their kids’ love of games. However, there is one disappointing result. Even the games, which are purported to be educational, did not affect cognitive performance. “This is consistent with previous research showing that game play, which is known to enhance cognitive function in young adults, has no effect in young children,” said C. Shawn Green, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Video games also distracted children from other productive activities, such as homework, in the group with the most playing time. In the world of psychology, this is called displacement. However, even in these cases, the differences in CogAT were small.
Regarding the results of this research, Professor Jie Zhang of the University of Houston said, “It shows that parents do not need to worry too much about the decline in cognitive function due to video games up to the fifth grade of elementary school.” Obsessive-compulsive behavior should be guarded against, and it is important to balance early childhood development.
Study Finds Video Game Playing Causes No Harm to Young Children’s Cognitive Abilities – University of Houston