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The Playing Brain. The Impact of Video Games on Cognition and Behavior in Pediatric Age at the Time of Lockdown: A Systematic Review.


A growing number of children and adolescents play video games (VGs) for long amounts of time. The current outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic has significantly reduced outdoor activities and direct interpersonal relationships. Therefore, a higher use of VGs can become the response to stress and fear of illness. VGs and their practical, academic, vocational and educational implications have become an issue of increasing interest for scholars, parents, teachers, pediatricians and youth public policy makers. The current systematic review aims to identify, in recent literature, the most relevant problems of the complex issue of playing VGs in children and adolescents in order to provide suggestions for the correct management of VG practice. The method used searches through standardized search operators using keywords related to video games and the link with cognition, cognitive control and behaviors adopted during the pandemic. Ninety-nine studies were reviewed and included, whereas twelve studies were excluded because they were educationally irrelevant. Any debate on the effectiveness of VGs cannot refer to a dichotomous approach, according to which VGs are rigidly ‘good’ or ‘bad’. VGs should be approached in terms of complexity and differentiated by multiple dimensions interacting with each other.