Does Gaming make Youths Smarter?

By TotallyAwesome’s Psychology Department (Sasha Hornery, Gemma Muscella & Amanda Abel)

Recent research from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD Study) in the US, analysed brain scans of more than 2,000 school-age children between the ages of 9 and 10 years old with some promising findings for those of us interested in the effects of gaming on the developing child.

They found that children who engaged in gaming for more than 3 hours per day had increased brain activity in the frontal lobe regions of their brain. This area of the brain is associated with problem solving and the ability to complete cognitively demanding tasks.

As we know, video games require significant cognitive abilities including; problem-solving skills, multi-tasking, hand-eye co-ordination and sometimes even teamwork. The researchers therefore hypothesise that the cognitively demanding nature of video games allows for this increased activity within the frontal lobe regions.

Whilst the researchers cant prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between video games and increased cognitive function, it was clear that those who played video games, did perform better on cognitive tests of memory and impulse control compared to those who did not, and had increased brain activity in frontal lobe areas of the brain.

According to our 2022 TotallyAwesome Gaming & Mental Health survey, 88% of kids say that gaming makes them feel great about themselves while 98% say they learn important skills like problem solving, team work and multi-tasking from gaming.

This study supports the idea that online gaming can help foster a child’s creativity, cognitive development and help with skills like teamwork, leadership and a myriad of other important developmental needs and skills (bonding with friends, finding likeminded interests, practising to get better at a task).

While this finding doesn’t mean children should play video-games endlessly, it shows us that it is not all doom and gloom when it comes to kids and gaming.

The TotallyAwesome psychology department encourages gaming in moderation and safe environments, and recognises both the benefits and the risks associated with online gaming. In fact, our very own data from 2022 indicates a multitude of benefits for children when it comes to gaming, and highlights how important it is for kids in terms of their social connectedness.

Read our blog for more interesting insights on all things youths and digital media!