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Video games have long come under fire for their effects on children but a new study found that the medium can boost intelligence in young minds, Science Alert reported.

Scientists analyzed screen time data of 9,855 9- and 10-year olds based in the United States. The data was gathered from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, considered the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the US.

At first, the research team observed that, on average, children spent 2.5 hours a day watching TV or online videos, one hour playing video games and 30 minutes socializing over the internet.

Then two years later, they accessed data of more than 5,000 of those youngsters and noticed a peculiar trend: Those who spent more time gaming saw an increase of 2.5 IQ points above the average rise.

The researchers noted that the IQ spike was based on various tasks including reading comprehension, flexible thinking and self-control. However, watching TV or browsing social media didn’t have a positive or negative effect on their cognitive abilities.

“Our results support the claim that screen time generally doesn’t impair children’s cognitive abilities, and that playing video games can actually help boost intelligence,” said co-author Torkel Klingberg.

Klingberg’s team suggested that the findings challenge the previous narrative that video games are detrimental to children. They added that the new research also factors in different variables, such as genetics and a child’s socio-economic background.

Even so, they agreed that many factors are at play in how intelligence develops and forms in children so more research is needed.

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