Most parents assume that playing video games or watching television is bad for their kids. Too much time in front of a screen has been known to create that “zoned out” look and an adverse reaction to physical activity among kids of all ages.
But according to the result of a recent study, playing video games might actually encourage kids to be more creative in other aspects of their lives.
A Michigan State University study of nearly 500 12 year-olds found that the more time kids spent playing video games, the more creative they were in tasks such as drawing pictures and writing stories. In contrast, use of cell phones, the Internet and computers (other than for video games) was unrelated to creativity.
To arrive at this conclusion, researchers asked 491 middle-school students how often they used different forms of technology and then gauged their creativity with the widely used Torrance Test of Creativity-Figural. The Torrance test involves tasks such as drawing an “interesting and exciting” picture from a curved shape, or giving the picture a title and then writing a story about it.
About 72 percent of U.S. households play video or computer games, according to the Entertainment Software Association. Linda Jackson, professor of psychology and lead researcher on the project, said the study appears to be the first evidence-based demonstration of a relationship between technology use and creativity. It’s also interesting to note that creativity increased regardless of gender, race or level of violence in the game played.
Jackson hopes that these results can be used to design video games that will optimize the development of creativity while still retaining their entertainment value.
Image Credit: Flickr – futurilla