A new study published in the Journal of Media Psychology has challenged long-held fears that children who play video games for long hours or choose certain games will suffer cognitively. The research team included Jie Zhang, associate professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Houston College of Education, and May Jadalla, professor in the School of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University, examined the gaming habits of 160 diverse urban preteen students.
The team looked for association between the students’ video game play and their performance on the standardized Cognitive Ability Test 7, and found no link between the two. C. Shawn Green, professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, noted that the study showed that types of gameplay known to improve cognitive functions in older children had no impact on the much younger participants.
The research team also noted that the heaviest video game players spent less time on other activities, such as homework. Still, the differences were slight between those participants and their peers’ CogAT measures of cognitive abilities. Jie Zhang concluded that “reasonable amounts of video gaming should be OK” and that parents should focus on finding balance in their children’s development rather than worrying too much about it. The National Science Foundation funded the study.