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Education PlayStation (Games) Games

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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  • Duh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by TOGSolid (1412915) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @02:39AM (#31505540)
    Did they really need to do a study to prove something we already knew? At least they fully admitted that it was just a matter of parents making sure that their child's time spent with video games is limited. Of course, that won't stop parents from blaming video games anyway.
  • by glwtta (532858) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:24AM (#31505716) Homepage
    So, the damn summary specifically says that this is not a correlation study.

    I'm going to assume you chose to play the PS3 instead of reading it...
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:33AM (#31505758) Homepage Journal

    Underneath the article headline, you will find something called a "summary." In this fascinating and useful bit of information, you will find the following:

    "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."

    Unless you have some specific critique of the study methodology -- specifically, some indication of bias in the assignment of children to treatment vs. control groups -- what's your point?

  • by DavidShor (928926) <supergeek717.gmail@com> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:37AM (#31505782) Homepage
    Yes, they did. From what I understand, they had two random samples of children: One group that was given a Playstation, and another that didn't. The first group showed lower academic achievement then the second group, by a large enough margin such that it was very likely not chance.

    The experiment design side-steps the correlation=/causation issue and directly measures causality. To answer your question specifically, there surely were parents of your that in both samples...

  • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:47AM (#31505820) Journal

    You have to remember that this study isn't suggesting that young children who play games grow up to be uninformed adults. All it's suggesting is the obvious: that playing video games can hinder learning. And it can, just like any other goofing off.

    If they wanted to show the long-term effects of childhood gaming, they would design a completely different study. And, I guess, in a way, this kind of study paves the way for the more general study, since it establishes that gaming has some effect on learning.

  • by quickgold192 (1014925) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @06:46AM (#31506714)

    Well, you actually *would* have to RTFA for that bit of information, so I guess we can forgive you.

    "The parents were told this was a study looking at child development, and they would get a video game system for participating...Half of the children were randomly chosen to receive the PlayStation right away, and half got it at the end of the four-month study period."

    So, they thought the PS2 was a prize for participating, and they could do whatever they wanted with it.

  • Full text (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @08:50AM (#31507728)

    Full text avaliable at http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/02/17/0956797610362670.full

  • by DavidShor (928926) <supergeek717.gmail@com> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @08:52AM (#31507738) Homepage
    "If they switched the playstations to the other group and the first playstation group caught up to/passed the second one, that would be a step towards causation potentially."

    .

    Not really, that would just needlessly complicate things. You take two identical groups, one gets a playstation and the other doesn't, and the group with the playstation performs worse, then if the effect size and sample size are large enough, you can claim that the playstation is the *cause* of the effect. That demonstrates causality.

    What you're talking about, seeing if the group would catch up, is more of a test about Hysteresis(permanence) of the effect. That'd be interesting, but it has nothing to do with causality.

    Also, to nit-pick, the most efficient sample design would probably be to sub-divide the samples into two further samples: [No Playstation ever], [No Playstation at first, Playstation later], [Playstation, then Playstation taken away], and [Playstation forever]. Switching the Playstations back and forth just creates interaction complications.

    " However, this could easily apply to ANY activity that takes away time from studying."

    Not really. If a student let's studying get in the way of sleeping, academic performance would probably suffer. There are all sorts of things like that: Exercise improves cognitive ability, learning an instrument boosts confidence, etc. There are people on the thread claiming that playing video-games helped their reading skills.

    Whether these effects outweigh the effect of not studying is non-trivial. Hence the study...

    "If it was causation, then what it would be saying is the act of playing video games dilutes the childrens' minds' ability to learn."

    Not really, no. That would be an underlying mechanism of causation. Flicking a light-switch "causes" the light to turn on, regardless of the underlying wiring of the house. The study seems to demonstrate "Putting a playstation in a house that didn't have one before causes decreased learning ability relative to not putting in a playstation"

    I know that's a bit nit-picky, but I think the world would be a better place if people had a better knowledge of statistics...

  • by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @09:44AM (#31508464)
    While there is an unavoidable selection bias (I was involved in both homeshool groups and extracurricular clubs, and how do you meet people that are inherently isolated?) and anecdotes are not authoritative, I would say that as a homeschooled person who has known many other homeschooled people, I am more qualified to estimate the scope of the 'norm' than you are.

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.

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