Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
Kids & video games
I swear, your kids and grandkids did not pay me to write this newsletter today. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
Invest In These Fast Food Robots Before … Tomorrow!
Restaurants expect a labor shortfall of 3.7 million over the next decade, and robotic kitchen assistants are already filling gaps in big-name kitchens.
To name a few: Jack in the Box, White Castle, and Buffalo Wild Wings
They’re all teaming up with Miso, and here’s why:
1% of typical restaurant spending
Up to 300% higher profit margins
Improves on the job with machine learning
Miso’s kitchen assistants could end up cooking for the entire $300 billion fast food industry. Don’t let the robo-chef revolution pass you by.
Kids & brains & video games
Your kids (or grandkids) did not pay me to write today’s newsletter (I promise), which is about the link between video games and increased intelligence.
It’s based instead on a study out of Europe, published in the online peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports, where researchers said they used a "massive" amount of data (their word) to find that kids who play lots of video games wind up with higher IQs.
As the authors summarized:
“While children who played more video games at ten years [old] were on average no more intelligent than children who didn't game, they showed the most gains in intelligence after two years, in both boys and girls.
For example, a child who was in the top 17% in terms of hours spent gaming increased their IQ about 2.5 points more than the average child over two years.
This is evidence of a beneficial, causal effect of video games on intelligence."
I've emphasized those two words, causal effect, because so often in these kinds of studies we're left to wonder whether it's simply a matter of correlation. Honestly, if not for that point I probably wouldn’t share this.
The authors explicitly say they believe it's the video game playing itself that leads to higher intelligence.
The researchers, at universities in the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden, used data from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) program, which bills itself as "the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States."
They connected with 5,000 children at least twice: first, when they were between 9 and 10 years old, and then again two years later, at ages 11 and 12.
Each time, they tracked how much time children spent doing three screen-related activities (spoiler alert, lots):
Watching online videos or TV shows (2.5 hours per day, on average)
Socializing online (presumably via social media) (30 minutes per day, on average)
Playing video games (one hour per day, on average)
They also tested the children’s intelligence, using five tasks:
"reading comprehension and vocabulary” (2 tasks);
"attention and executive function" (1 task);
“visual-spatial processing (such as rotating objects in your mind)” (1 task); and
"learning ability over multiple trials" (also 1 task)
Then, they just looked at the data. Overall, the kids who spent the most time playing video games saw their IQs go up the most between the first and second interviews.
Those who spent more of their screen time watching videos or socializing saw little to no difference.
Now, not to shoot down a study that I just gave some screen time, but there are two big questions here that I wish the researchers would address better:
First, IQ isn’t everything; there are other health challenges associated with too much screen time in general. So what’s the downside?
Second, if the children weren't playing video games so often, would they simply have been watching videos or going on social media, instead? Or would they be reading books and learning math or studying languages, which might have an even greater effect on increased intellect?
But, the research doesn’t go that far. So, I’ll let them have the second-to-last word:
"Our results should not be taken as a blanket recommendation for all parents to allow limitless gaming. But for those parents bothered by their children playing video games, you can now feel better knowing that it's probably making them a tad smarter."
As for the last word? Well, apropos of nothing, here’s the (playable) video game that a 12-year-old Elon Musk programmed and sold to a magazine back in 1984, making him $500. Seems like it probably worked out for him, anyway.
7 other things worth knowing today
A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday revealed sweeping gun reform legislation that, if passed, could end decades of partisan gridlock and inaction on the issue. "Today, we finalized bipartisan, commonsense legislation to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country," Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C. said in a joint statement. (USA Today)
Four out of five small business owners say they're concerned about a recession, but most say they also think they'll survive the downturn. Why? People have jobs and they're still spending money, at least for now. (MarketWatch)
The Texas Tribune has put together a heck of a compendium of how police apparently failed to confront the Robb Elementary School gunman for an hour or more, even as local officials try to stop the flow of information. "We don’t have enough firepower," school police chief Pete Arredondo said in a call to dispatch obtained by the Tribune. "He has an AR-15. ... I need some more firepower in here because we all have pistols and this guy’s got a rifle." (Texas Tribune)
Seems worth sharing as summer beings: America's top weather killer isn't tornadoes, flooding, lightning or hurricanes. It's heat. (Weather.com)
Should Texas secede from the Union? The Texas Republican party over the weekend approved a platform that calls for Texans to vote on that question. It also includes "a swath of controversial changes to their party’s platform, coming out in full force against LGBT rights and taking a hard right turn on several other issues." (Newsweek, Washington Examiner)
Forget video games. Meet the 17-year-old who started a lemonade business that now brings in millions of dollars a year. Mikaila Ulmer got her start as a child, and a boost after appearing as an 11-year-old on Shark Tank six years ago. Now, she'll be balancing her business while attending college as a freshman in the fall. (Fox News, CNBC)
Welsh man drinks at 56 pubs in 24 hours for Guinness World Record (not all alcoholic drinks, btw). (UPI)