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Posted at 1:07 PM ET, 03/18/2010

Video game hurts schoolwork of boys--study

By Valerie Strauss

Researchers are trying to tell parents something about what kinds of video games chidlren should be playing and how much time they should spend doing it.

A new study concludes what you’ve already suspected: Young boys who play video games do worse on tests than children who don’t.

Researchers who followed 64 boys from the ages of 6 to 9 for four months discovered that those who received a new PlayStation II gaming system earned lower reading and writing test scores than children who did not get the video game player.

This comes on the heels of another recently reported study about video games, which concluded that kids who play violent video games become more aggressive and less caring--regardless of age, sex or culture--than young people who don’t play these games.

The study on the effects of video games on schoolwork was conducted by Denison University Associate Professor Robert Weis and Brittany Cerankosky, who graduated from Denison in 2008. It is called “Effects of Video-Game Ownership on Young Boys’ Academic and Behavioral Functioning,” and will be published in Psychological Science.

Boys who received the system also showed greater teacher-reported academic problems at follow-up than children in the comparison group.

The researchers followed 64 young boys over four months. Parents of the 64 were promised a PlayStation II gaming system in exchange for their participation, plus three E rated games. But half the families were given the video gaming system immediately and half were promised it after four months.

The children underwent a battery of tests before and after the four months and parents and teachers answered questions about how the boys behaved in school and at home.

The conclusions:

*Boys who were the first to get the PlayStations spent more time playing video games than the boys who didn’t get it immediately--39.3 minutes versus 9.3 minutes. (The boys who didn’t get the gaming system right away played at a friend’s house).

*Boys who were given the PlayStations right away spent 18.2 minutes a day in after-school academic activities versus 31.6 minutes for the kids who weren't.

*The boys who had the videogames immediately achieved lower reading and writing test scores than those who didn’t. But the PlayStations seemed to have no effect on the boys’ math and problem solving skills.

Cerankosky said in a statement on the Denison University Web site that there isn’t “necessarily something inherent in video games that negatively affects kids.
“It’s an activity that detracts from time that could be spent on schoolwork,” she said.

If you are wondering why we needed a study to tell us that, the researchers say that conventional wisdom is not always accurate, and it is important to prove such beliefs through experimentation.

The previously reported study
linking violent video games to violent behavior among gamers was done by psychologist Craig Anderson, director of Iowa State University’s Center for the Study of Violence.

It was a metastudy that looked at 130 research reports on more than 130,000 subjects around the world on the same topic. It is published in the March issue of the Psychological Bulletin, an American Psychological Association journal.

Anderson and his team of researchers concluded that exposure to violent video games directly causes increased aggressive thoughts and behavior, and decreased empathy and pro-social behavior in the youths exposed to them. The results held true across countries, cultures, and study methods.

Anderson said the evidence is now conclusive, and it is time for parents to restrict the gaming activities of their kids.


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By Valerie Strauss  | March 18, 2010; 1:07 PM ET
Categories:  Health, Research  | Tags:  video games, violent video games  
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Why do you jump to saying video games hurt boys' schoolwork, when the PI herself says there isn’t “necessarily something inherent in video games that negatively affects kids.
“It’s an activity that detracts from time that could be spent on schoolwork.”

Why not just say that when you introduce an attractive distraction to a child's life, at least for the first months while it's novel, it takes time away from schoolwork?

Posted by: kidvidkid | March 18, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, a conclusion was that boys who were given a brand new playstation played with it more than boys who were not given one? That's beyond convential wisdom. Perhaps the right term is blindingly obvious.

Posted by: Etch | March 18, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

What 6-9 year old doesn't have a $100 PS2. I spend more than that buying video games for myself in 1-2 months and I'm a high school student. I play at least an hour a day but i still have a 3.89 GPA. I do play violent games ,obviously, but i think they help me get the anger out and become less aggressive. Interacting with a game is better than watching tv. IT involves: concentration, hand-eye coordination, among other things. It also helps with reaction skills.

Posted by: JJBIZZ | March 18, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

I agree with kidvidkid
This is a badly misrepresented report and the headline does not reflect the content.
I am campaigning for manufacturers to be ethical and to do the right thing when marketing to children. It doesn't help when the media post misleading copy.
C'mon everybody, let's be positive about our kids!

Posted by: nicjones | March 19, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Why was this done only with boys? Why didn't they do a comparable study with girls? I'd like to see the results of that too.

And I agree with what everyone above me said.

Posted by: akchild | March 19, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone thought to study whether students who read complete nonfiction books do better on reading tests than those who don't?

Will Fitzhugh

Posted by: fitzhugh1 | March 19, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

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