Despite the bad press, playing video games may actually spur creativity among boys and girls, independently of their violent or non-violent nature.
A study of nearly 500, 12-year-olds found that the more they played video games, the more creative they were in tasks such as drawing pictures and writing stories.
Conversely, the use of cell phones, the internet and computers (other than for video games) was unrelated to creativity, the study found.
Linda Jackson, professor of psychology at Michigan State University (MSU) and project leader, said the study appears to be the first evidence-based demonstration of a relationship between technology use and creativity, the journal Computers in Human Behaviour reports.
About 72 percent of US households play video or computer games, says the Entertainment Software Association, according to a Michigan statement.
The MSU findings should motivate game designers to identify the aspects of video game activity that are responsible for the creative effects, Jackson said.
"Once they do that, video games can be designed to optimise the development of creativity while retaining their entertainment values such that a new generation of video games will blur the distinction between education and entertainment," Jackson said.
The researchers surveyed 491 middle-school students as part of Michigan's Children and Technology Project. Regardless of gender, race or type of game played by the students, the study found a relation between video game playing and greater creativity.