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Study Finds That Video Games Hinder Learning In Young Boys 278

Posted by Soulskill
from the fun-activities-distract-from-studies,-film-at-11 dept.
dcollins writes "Researchers at Denison University in Ohio have shown that giving PlayStations to young boys leads to slower progress in reading and writing skills. Quoting: 'The study is the first controlled trial to look at the effects of playing video games on learning in young boys. That is to say, the findings aren't based on survey data of kids' game habits, but instead on a specific group of children that were randomly assigned to receive a PlayStation or not ... Those with PlayStations also spent less time engaged in educational activities after school and showed less advancement in their reading and writing skills over time than the control group, according to tests taken by the kids. While the game-system owners didn't show significant behavioral problems, their teachers did report delays in learning academic skills, including writing and spelling.'"
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Study Finds That Video Games Hinder Learning In Young Boys

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  • What games? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:50AM (#31505588)

    I'd be interested in seeing what games were used in the study. I played a lot as a kid, but mostly the RPG's and I'm pretty sure it helped my reading in the long run. My school had me pegged as reading at a college level by grade 5, and I'm pretty sure I didn't pick that up at school.

    They don't even have to be educational games if the mechanics are complex enough you end up teaching yourself new basic skills simply to master the game.

  • by ItsColdOverHere (928704) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:52AM (#31505592)

    I wonder if the researchers thought to look for correlations between parents who were willing to let their children get away with not doing their homework before doing leisure activities, computer game related or not?

  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte@drunksnipe r s .com> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:54AM (#31505602) Homepage

    Because I doubt playing text heavy RPG or adventure games has a negative influence on reading.
    Saying video games are bad for reading is like saying eating food makes you fat.

  • by crazybit (918023) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:58AM (#31505614)
    If they want to see the REAL consequences, they should get a group of 1000 straight A students and see how many of them had video games for the last four years. I am sure the results will be the other day. I am sure many people HERE have been great students and did have a NES or some other console during their school years.

    As the article says, these consoles where given to kids that where anxious to have them (they did't have it before but played them at their friends houses). Get a man that haven't had sex in 6 years and give him a girlfriend and analize what happens. Anyone has considered that those consequences might have happened because (1) those kids didn't have a console BEFORE (the novelty factor) and (2) those kids wanted to get the most out of the console because of subconscious fear that it might be taken away from them later.
  • This just in ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rollgunner (630808) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:02AM (#31505624)
    - I shall now replace Video Games with Not Being Locked in a Library.

    The study is the first controlled trial to look at the effects of not being locked in a library on learning in young boys.
    That is to say, the findings aren't based on survey data of kids' library avoidance habits,
    but instead on a specific group of children that were randomly assigned to be locked in a library or not ...
    Children not confined to a library showed less advancement in their reading and writing skills over time than the control group.

    - Clearly, All children should be locked in libraries immediately !
  • by gomiam (587421) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:03AM (#31505626)
    And they are dumber because...?

    The study finds a correlation between videogame play time and lack of learning. Which is quite understandable: if I study less than I need, I will probably learn less. No need to be dumber.

  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:15AM (#31505680) Homepage

    I let my kids (3.5 and 6) play on our Wii. But it's supervised, and only a few hours a week. Usually I'm taking part too. (New Super Mario Bros is more fun when you can go into the bubble and daddy can clear the hard part of the level. ;)

    I'd argue in our family gaming is a net positive activity. The kids learn motor skills, cooperation, and given that I emphasize social games, get used to do gaming together as a group.

    Any fool can tell that dumping a Playstation on a kid and not moderating the activity will likely be harmful. Any activity is bad for you if you do too much of it...

    It it really so hard people?

  • Re:What games? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:25AM (#31505724)

    I figure kids who play games which involve more reading, problem solving and strategizing would fare better than kids who play brainless shooters or platformers, but moderation is key as well.

  • by james.mcarthur (154849) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:26AM (#31505726)
    My nephew learnt to read from an early age by playing video games - we all got sick of sitting there with him reading out the same screens over and over and over again that in the end we told him he had to learn to read in order to play his games.
  • by glwtta (532858) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:45AM (#31505810) Homepage
    As such I don't think the results of the study are valid. I think there are confounding factors that could falsify their theory.

    Their theory is that kids who get a game console will spend more time playing it than those who don't. Your arguments are against the interpretation of the results, not their validity.

    Ultimately I don't think it is the case that videogames are causally related to school performance at all. Goofing off is, but then people goof off in all sorts of ways.

    The way I read it, the study asks a simple question: does merely giving someone a game console cause them to goof off more? The answer seems an obvious "yes" in the short term, and as you mentioned, this particular study doesn't help with the long term implications.

    There's nothing really shocking or prejudicial here. If you took a community where television isn't common and gave a random sampling of kids a TV, they would likely spend more time watching TV - I don't really see why this seems so outlandish to a lot of people.

    I do agree that doing the study over 4 months isn't very meaningful, though.

    They were more limited to the nerdy types, like me. However my observation was that the videogamers tended to be the higher performers. The kids who goofed off by playing videogames when allowed to seemed to do better in school than the kids who goofed off by watching TV or playing sports when allowed to.

    Well, yeah, nerds were the ones playing video games and nerds do well in school - that is a classic confounding factor.

    The question here isn't whether video games are somehow a "bad" way of goofing off, it's whether owning a console leads to more goofing off. And, come one, are we really going to argue that it doesn't?
  • It's already been pointed out that this is a rather obvious result (not that I personally think that means the study wasn't worthwhile). Given the option, of course boys are going to choose video games over basically any other activity.

    Personally, I think computer games harmed my intellectual development as a kid. Here's my anecdote.

    I grew up around computers - my dad was into them and basically gave me free reign over whatever systems we ended up with in the house. He didn't ever teach me very much, leaving me to learn it all on my own. Of course I was most interested in games (Commander Keen era) but I spent a lot of time exploring what else was possible. I learned a whole lot about computers at a very early age that way.

    A few years later, computer games for me really took off - especially because of Star Wars games like X-Wing, Dark Forces, and the rest... I had pretty much all of them, couldn't get enough. At that point, my primary intention when I fired up the computer was to get into the X-Wing cockpit as quickly as possible; I was no longer really interested in anything else.

    This kind of went back and forth over the years... there would be periods when I'd briefly get really into something besides games (3D modeling, photoshop, basic programming, all kinds of stuff) - but that only lasted until the next great game came out, and I'd forget all that stuff. The only thing that really stuck from those interstitial phases was photo editing, which I consider myself an expert in now :)

    Now, this still put me way ahead of the pack - I knew more about computers than anyone else at school. The reason is that I was actually using computers in all my spare time (even if I was just gaming) rather than playing Nintendo. I never had a console or handheld like every other kid seemed to have. In the mean time I played all the big computer games, and a lot of small ones, up until 2001 or 2002 when I lost interest. When I stopped playing computer games, I went straight back into learning all I could about computers and various software, and though I was still way ahead of most people I knew, I was actually way behind in general. I'd lost several years of computer knowledge to games, and I never really caught up as much as I think I could have.

    Also during that time when I was constantly gaming, I missed out on other stuff. I didn't watch a lot of good films (now a major passion of mine), I didn't read a lot of good books (I have quite the collection of Star Wars books, though...), the only music I knew was The Beatles (not that I regret that), and so on. Thus, though I was still an unpopular nerd in high school, once I stopped playing computer games I found all this time that I could suddenly use for more interesting cultural and intellectual pursuits, and I'm really grateful that I didn't waste all of high school playing games.

    I still do like games, but I take them in moderation and I wait a while after they come out to decide if I really want to spend time on it. I play through one or two games a year at most (most recent ones I spent a lot of time on were Civ IV and Fallout 3; I do also play most of the Call of Duty games as a guilty pleasure...) The rest of my time is spent doing things that are more intellectually stimulating or otherwise useful.

    So what's my point... well, given the chance - and given that they aren't going to put much thought into how this will affect them in the future - boys are going to choose video games. If parents want their kids to know more than how to play first person shooters when they grow up, they should probably do some parenting. I'm very grateful that my parents let me do whatever I wanted growing up (more or less), but I don't think most kids can handle that responsibly. Most of my actual learning took place outside of school, and if I spent all my time playing video games like a lot of kids do now, I would be a completely different person today.

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:07AM (#31505916)

    It's obvious that we're growing MUCH dumber people than we were fifty years ago. -Well, obvious to those who take the time to explore the issue, and by explore, I mean, compare stories.

    If you are in your thirties, then talk to people who are twenty years older than you. Get them to tell you their stories about being a youth, then compare those stories to your own. Unless you stayed away from TV and electronic media in a big way, you'll be ashamed and distraught by how big a wuss you sound like by comparison to all the real-life Indiana Joneses out there. Sharp, educated, brave and bruised; people who experienced real adventures and lived to tell the story. And I'm just talking about basic rural living. There was a lot more heart to go around.

    Then compare your own stories with the latest crop of plugged-in kids. Even you will sound like a superhero by contrast.

    Like it or not, in broad strokes which cannot be easily summed up in statistical analysis of video game studies, THIS is the direction human evolution is going.

    Interacting with the physical world and the people living in it teaches kids how to interact with the physical world and the people living in it. Nothing else does it better. -Whereas interacting with media teaches escapism.

    I mean, sure, there are certainly pros and cons; the internet for instance can be used to waste time or it can be used to read and absorb real knowledge. The user's intent matters. But the fundamental truth is that when drugs are freely available, drugs usually win. Knowledge obtained through work, by contrast, is not addictive. Walking uphill is harder than rolling down a slope.

    Amazingly, you can still raise brilliant, powerful kids. The human machine is fundamentally the same as it was before the advent of TV. Simply follow this protocol. . .

    Don't have a TV in your house. Don't play video games. Don't be a computer addict. Eat non-toxic foods, read a lot and get outdoors to play a lot. Do all that as a parent and aside from loving your own life, your kids will follow suit. Oh, and hugs and love. Everybody needs love and hugs!

    But it's not going to be an easy world to inherit. If there were any Huns, they'd be at the gate right now.

    -FL

  • by glwtta (532858) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:31AM (#31506036) Homepage
    But might it be that the same thing would have happened with most -other- forms of shiny-new-fun-toy too ? i.e. that the results are really independent of "gaming" as such ?

    Sure, you'd likely see similar behavior with other toys, but why does that make it "independent" of gaming? It seems valid to ask whether a specific toy will lead to a noticeable drop in school performance, no?

    And, off the top of my head, I can't really come up with anything that's as big a time-sink as video games. Well TV, obviously, but that's well enough entrenched that it's not a consideration for most parents.

    I know we are trying to pretend that this is just demonizing video games in some prejudiced, marginalizing way, but that's a bit of a knee-jerk reaction at this point.

    The simple, real-life question is "Is buying a console likely to sufficiently increase the amount of time my kids goof off that it will be reflected in their school performance?". This study is obviously very far from proving such a thing, but really, would it be all that shocking if the answer is "yes"?
  • by jandersen (462034) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @06:55AM (#31506442)

    I suspect a major part of the reason is simply that the more you play computer games, the less time, motivation and energy you have for learning things that are perceived as boring. Unfortunately this can lead to a vicious circle - when you have difficult learning something, you tend to push aways as "boring", which will make it even harder to learn.

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @08:07AM (#31506840)

    Why do you believe it has to be either/or? Just because there's a playstation in the house does not mean you can't go and get your teeth kicked in in a game of rugby.

    You're in your thirties. Of course you had an active childhood! The alternative was somewhere between Pong, coin-op Space-Invaders and the fledgling Atari which you probably had to go over to a friend's house to play. There was no internet, no cell phones, and TV had a fraction of the influence it has today. And I bet both your grandfathers survived actual wars to your cub scouts. Essentially, you just made my point.

    So what you're really saying is that you don't have the discipline to turn the tv off when it's there and hence your kids have to go without it as well? How about an alternative? Get in control of your own life before spawning offspring? Crazy idea, I know...but I think it's a lot better than the alternative. (Hint: look up what happens when kids that have been forcible deprived of "drugs" as you call them while their peers do have access move out of their parent's houses...)

    I have enough discipline to not own a TV at all, I don't have kids and you doth protest too much. See? Assumptions work both ways. Except mine are probably right.

    -FL

  • by misexistentialist (1537887) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @08:10AM (#31506860)
    Even if you limit kids' contact with technology, they still will grow up in smaller families, in consolidated school districts devoted to testing and college placement, and be subject to stricter laws that limit their ability to drive or get in fights.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @09:46AM (#31507678)

    That's actually quite impressive, but I hope you're not shortchanging your own achievements with this. You are doing precisely what a good parent should be: spending time with your child and helping him figure out the world and how to deal with it. Lego Star Wars is just the tool you've found most helpful to do it. You could've taken the lazy route and just used it as a babysitter, like many do, but instead you get involved and use the tool to your advantage. I, for one, salute you.

  • by Belial6 (794905) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @12:09PM (#31509696)
    Actually, it shows that he is so good at it that he can use local slang properly instead of having to stick classroom English. In fact, the apostrophe at the beginning shows that the writer did know what they were writing.

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