Kids who play video games for three or more hours per day performed better on impulse control and memory tests than children who don’t play games, according to research published in JAMA Network Open.
Researchers analyzed brain scans from more than 2,000 school-age participants in the ongoing Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the country.
The study has been the largest investigation into the association between video gaming, cognition and brain function, according to Bader Chaarani, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont and lead author on the study.
The study adds to a growing body of research suggesting video games may have positive impacts on players.
The question of how much “screen time” is too much for kids, and what the content should be, has long been studied and debated. But now that children not only watch old-fashioned TV, but carry their own personal screens everywhere, the issue has only grown hotter.
Right now, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends strict screen-time limits for children younger than 6.
With older kids, things are murkier—partly because research is mixed as to the possible harms or benefits of various forms of screen time. But the AAP does stress that screens should not interfere with exercise and sleep: Older children and teenagers should get at least an hour of physical activity each day, and adequate sleep (8-12 hours, depending on their age).