Why People Who Play Video Games Are Smarter & More Successful

Game ON!

woman playing video games anon_tae / Shutterstock

Kids and most adults love to play video games and would play all day and night if their parents (and work schedule) let them. In fact, adults who play video games actually have higher levels of happiness and relaxation. What better way to escape from the stresses of life?

But for kids, parents and experts have discussed the potential harm of video games. Previous studies have suggested children learn violence and other negative behaviors from playing with them.


But a new study has found that children who play video games have almost twice the odds of having a high intellectual function and high overall school competence. 

RELATED: Why I Make My Kids Use Electronics Every Day

RELATED: 4 Bad Micro-Habits That Drain Your Cognitive Battery


In other words, playing video games is good for you.

For the study, which was published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, researchers from Columbia University looked at data from 3,195 children between the ages of 6 and 11 collected as part of the School Children Mental Health Europe. Parents and teachers assessed their child's mental health in a questionnaire, and the children themselves answered questions via an interactive tool.  

Generally, about 20 percent of the children played video games for more than five hours per week.

After adjusting for the age and gender of the kids, as well as siblings, their mother's age, marital status, education, employment status, psychological distress, and region, the researchers discovered that high video game usage was associated with 1.75 times the odds of high intellectual functioning and 1.88 times the odds of high overall school competence.


There weren't any significant associations with any child self-reported or mother/teacher-reported mental health problems. The researchers also found that more video game playing was associated with fewer relationship problems with other kids. 

RELATED: My Husband Is Dating Our Babysitter

One of the researchers, Dr. Katherine Keyes, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia, said, "These results indicate that children who frequently play video games may be socially cohesive with peers and integrated into the school community."

But too much video gaming isn't good, either. Dr. Keyes advised, "We caution against over-interpretation, however, as setting limits on screen usage remains an important component of parental responsibility as an overall strategy for student success."


Overall, the study concluded that playing video games "may have positive effects on young children" but that "understanding the mechanisms through which video game use may stimulate children should be further investigated."

RELATED: 7 Unsexy Habits That Demolish Your Likeability

Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, and Woman's Day.