Video games link to learning problems

  • Deborah Condon

Children who own video game systems may be at an increased risk of developing learning problems in school, the results of a new study indicate.

US researchers set out to examine the short-term effects of video game ownership on the academic development of young boys. Families with boys between the ages of six and nine were recruited. The families did not own video game systems, but the parents had been considering buying one.

The children completed intelligence tests as well as reading and writing assessments. In addition, the boys' parents and teachers filled out questionnaires relating to their behaviour at home and at school.

Half of the families were then selected to immediately receive a video game system, along with three age-appropriate video games. The remaining families were promised a video game system four months later, at the end of the experiment.

Over the course of the four months, the parents recorded their children's activities from the end of the school day until bedtime. After four months, the children repeated the reading and writing assessments and parents and teachers again completed the behavioural questionnaires.

The study found that the boys who received the video game system immediately spent more time playing video games and less time engaged in after-school academic activities than boys who received the video game system at the end of the experiment.

Furthermore, the boys who received the video game system at the beginning of the study had significantly lower reading and writing scores four months later compared with the other boys.

Although there were no differences in parent-reported behavioural problems between the two groups of children, the boys who received the video game system immediately had greater teacher-reported learning problems.

According to the researchers from Denison University in Ohio, the findings suggest that video games may be displacing after-school academic activities and may impede reading and writing development in young boys.

They also pointed out that when children have problems with language at this young age, they tend to have a tougher time acquiring advanced reading and writing skills later on.

"Altogether, our findings suggest that video game ownership may impair academic achievement for some boys in a manner that has real world significance,” the researchers said.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, Psychological Science.


Jamie - 15/03/2010 11:02

This is ridiclious. It says the children who recied the video games spent less time doing their after school academic activities. So basically they were allowed play video games instead of doing their homework! Of course this will effect them.

scapegoat - 15/03/2010 14:09

Show me the survey which tests kids who play video games instead of, for example, watching TV not for those who play video games instead of doing their homework or reading! We need to see if playing video games has an effect on those doing their homework, etc. equally. Were the parents given guidelines as to how to allow or restrict video game usage?

Anonymous - 15/03/2010 16:12

Doesn't surprise me.

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