WASHINGTON: Playing video games has been found to neither harm nor benefit the cognitive abilities of children and young adults, according to a new research.
Parents may rethink family's video-gaming rules as the research challenges the fears that children who spend hours playing video would manifest unhealthy results in their cognitive ability, it said.
''Our studies turned up no such links, regardless of how long the children played and what types of games they chose,'' said Jie Zhang, associate professor at the University of Houston, US, and a member of the research team.
According to the study, researchers examined the video gaming habits of 160 diverse urban public-school preteen students.
Participating students reported playing video games an average of 2.5 hours daily, with the group's heaviest gamers putting in as much as 4.5 hours each day, the study said.
The team of researchers looked for association between the students' video game play and their performance on the standardized Cognitive Ability Test 7, known as CogAT, which evaluates verbal, quantitative and nonverbal/spatial skills, the study said.
CogAT was chosen as a standard measure, in contrast to the teacher-reported grades or self-reported learning assessments that previous research projects have relied on, the study said.
''Overall, neither duration of play nor choice of video game genres had significant correlations with the CogAT measures. That result shows no direct linkage between video game playing and cognitive performance, despite what had been assumed,'' said May Jadalla, professor at Illinois State University, US, and the study's principal investigator.
However, the study also revealed another side of the issue, too. Certain types of games described as helping children build healthy cognitive skills also presented no measurable effects, in spite of the games' marketing messages, it said.
''The current study found results that are consistent with previous research showing that types of gameplay that seem to augment cognitive functions in young adults don't have the same impact in much younger children,'' said C. Shawn Green, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US.
Does this mean the world can play on? Maybe, the research suggests.
But the experts also caution that gaming time took the heaviest players' away from other, more productive activities - homework, to be specific - in a process psychologists call displacement, the study said.
But even in those cases, the differences were slight between those participants and their peers' CogAT measures of cognitive abilities, the study said.
''The study results show parents probably don't have to worry so much about cognitive setbacks among video game-loving children, up to fifth grade.
''Reasonable amounts of video gaming should be OK, which will be delightful news for the kids. Just keep an eye out for obsessive behaviour,'' said Zhang.
''When it comes to video games, finding common ground between parents and young kids is tricky enough. At least now we understand that finding balance in childhood development is the key, and there's no need for us to over-worry about video gaming,'' said Zhang.
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