A new study has shown that playing video games could increase the health and social skills of children. The research is set to be published in the journal American Psychologist.
The study was a review of research into the possible positive effects of video games. Researchers found that video games may increase cognitive skills in children, including spatial navigation, reasoning, memory, and perception. The positive effects were seen regardless of the type of video game being played, including violent ones. In fact, researchers determined that video games featuring a shooting mechanic were particularly good at stimulating 3D spatial reasoning in children.
“This has critical implications for education and career development, as previous research has established the power of spatial skills for achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Isabela Granic, lead author of the study and a professor at Radboud University Nijmegen. “Important research has already been conducted for decades on the negative effects of gaming, including addiction, depression and aggression, and we are certainly not suggesting that this should be ignored. However, to understand the impact of video games on children’s and adolescents’ development, a more balanced perspective is needed.”
More complicated strategy or role-playing games were also found to benefit children. Those who played such games were found to have improved problem-solving skills during their next school year.
Though simpler games such as Angry Birds might not promote spatial reasoning in the same way shooters do, the study still found that they could have a positive effect. Such games were found by the study to improve mood and promote relaxation.
“If playing video games simply makes people happier, this seems to be a fundamental emotional benefit to consider,” said Granic.