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Subject: How games can make kids smarter rss

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Professor of Pain
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St. Joseph
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These articles are a few months old, but interesting and pertinent none-the-less. Some interesting research shows that playing games can improve children's reasoning ability and processing speed. Neuroscientists spent 8 weeks having a group of disadvantaged school children play games for an hour and 15 minutes each day. At the end of the 20 hours of gaming, their intelligence measures increased as much as is typical after an entire year of school. See $13 Christmas gifts = 13 point gain in kids’ IQ for more details.

Another article,
Why Dumb Toys Make Kids Smarter
, suggests that letting kids pursue their interests in things like Pokémon can facilitate development of math skills and processing speed.

So, should we take our kids out of school and just sit around and play games with them? Sounds fun...
 
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darksurtur
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Thanks for pointing these out.

Of course, I'll warn against extrapolating from either of these cases. In the first article, the experiments were conducted in disadvantaged youth, and the gains seen were inversely correlated to starting IQ. The implication here is that people who don't start with uneducated and/or unsupportive parents, who don't live in poor and/or dangerous neighborhoods, and who don't attend the most troubled public schools (like presumably, the majority of people who eventually are actually able to consider a board game hobby) won't see cognitive gains from game playing.

The second article just relates an anecdote. Who knows what cognitive effects Pokemon has in the long term in larger groups? If anything, I would guess that the primary benefits of playing Pokemon for children are increased emotional intelligence/social ability and a more sophisticated ability to interact and adapt entertainment media, rather than bolstered arithmetic or reading ability.
 
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Professor of Pain
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St. Joseph
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I agree on the second article, it is just an anecdote. However, from the description in the first article, the research design seems sound and the results more generalizable. The concerns you raise obtain in most, if not all, experimental designs of this sort. A much broader design with random assignment addressing the factors you mention is warranted, and it appears follow-up research is planned. That said, neuroscience and cognitive theory are not my area, so take my opinions here as informed speculation.
 
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