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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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  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:20AM (#31505700)

    However, initially I'm going to call "bullshit". This is partially because my experience with psychology studies (I did psychology in university) leads me to believe that very few research psychologists have a good handle on technology. Every video game related study I saw had rather deep flaws that showed a lack of understanding of videogames.

    In this case, based on the article, I see two potential major flaws:

    1) The study was fairly short term. That doesn't tell you anything. All kinds of changes can happen in the short term with a child, and are not meaningful in the long run. You need to evaluate development over a period of years, not over four months. If you look in to the literature on child development you find that many things that taken in a small context that look worrying don't matter in the long run. A child will start talking or reading 6-12 months later than peers, and yet have normal language skills at graduation, for example.

    2) It only dealt with kids who got a new toy, not with ones who had it. Even in adults, when we get something new we are more enamored with it and want to spend more time using it. That dies down after a little while. There is no reason to believe that videogames are any different. As such if you believe they are, you need to test that. There needs to be controls with kids that have had videogame systems for long periods of time.

    As such I don't think the results of the study are valid. I think there are confounding factors that could falsify their theory. They need to run additional tests with those controlled before I'm willing to accept it, and I imagine such additional tests would falsify the theory.

    What needs to be looked at is the difference between kinds with and without videogames over a long period of time. Ideally from like elementary school up to graduation. At this point, the ship may have already sailed on that as videogames are a very popular form of entertainment in our society.

    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. I admit I am biased in that when I grew up videogames were not all that popular. 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.

    I don't think the videogames caused that, but it does make me doubt that videogames are special in any way at hindering academic performance as opposed to other kinds of entertainment.

  • by suisui (1134031) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:34AM (#31505762)
    Same for me. My native tongue isn't English, but I had to start learning it at the age of six because no one translated manuals/dialogue fast enough. It's strange what a small bit of motivation can achieve.
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowskyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:02AM (#31505874) Homepage Journal

    You know I'm not exactly down with the gratuitous of a lot of the stuff in society today - either sexual or violent, but, to just go and say video games are bad is entirely wrong.

    My pre-school son is autistic, and one of the most helpful things that I ever did with him was to get him to play Lego Star Wars. First, we worked on the basic controller stuff, up, down, left, and right, and jump, and from that he was able to make the verbal connection between the play and he learned to not only do the controller, but could also communicate directions. Building on that, I worked on teaching him how to describe different things in the game, like colors, sounds, and from there, characters. Cut scenes proved to be really useful in getting him to be able to relate stories as to what was taking place. He's learning to share, and to ask for help, and to ask to do things, and get this, he's even learning how to give directions himself. He can ask to go back to Mos Eisely spaceport when he doesn't like a board. He's starting to understand money and getting better with saving and counting as we spent a weekend saving up to buy the Emperor. He's solving puzzles and he can describe situations where he gets stuck, and he can respond now to verbal cues in response. I can say "you have to jump on that platform and build this thing to climb up", and he will. He's learning bonding, as we sit next each other on a big beanbag the whole time we're playing. We're even getting into some of the moral lessons in the tale. Darth Vader was first a good guy, then became a bad guy, then became a good guy, so he's kinda getting the idea that there is redemption through action, and he's understanding some of the themes of helping your friends. And, honestly, its been a great spring board for me to engage him in his activities and at his level. I can sit down with him and do toy soldiers in the sandbox for four hours and really enjoy it.

    Are there downsides? Sure... he lightsabers the dog too much and he gets carried away when he has to fight the bad guys in socially inappropriate situations. But, if you take the thing as a whole, I'd say my son is infinitely better off with Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones and the XBOX 360 than he ever would have been with just traditional instruction. Video games let you learn by doing, bond by sharing, and he's doing just that, and that's helped him grow as a person. If you are willing to blow hundreds of hours playing video games with your children, it will be one of the best things that you've ever done.

    I highly recommend it.

  • by GrpA (691294) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:04AM (#31505888)

    I'm going to add to this, even though my details are purely anecdotal.

    My youngest son has learning difficulties and we've put in a lot of work to get him to the stage that he can learn at a normal school. it's an autism spectrum issue.

    He plays a LOT of games, probably about 6 hours a day on average. No PS3 or X360, but PC games. Mostly BF2 Sandbox and games where he interacts with real people.

    As a result, he has to do a LOT of typing and spelling while playing. It seems to have quite a positive effect, with teachers reporting an improvement in his english. His spelling is perfect and he's putting sentences together a lot more effectively than he previously did.

    Communicating through forums and games on the Internet seems to have had a profound effect on him. he's motivated to learn while he's creating stories and worlds and co-ordinating other players.

    The solution is simple. Mindless games lead to mindless results. Challenging games lead to academic improvement. Online games with other players lead to social improvements and communicating through messenger has left him learning more after-school than he's able to during class-time.

    Even first person shooters can be educational, but it tends to me more on the PC multiplayer games where strategy and communications are key elements of the game.

    GrpA

  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:14AM (#31505946) Homepage Journal

    It was a little over ten years ago, I turned off the voice option (he didn't know there was one) and got him interested in Gabriel Knight Sins of the Fathers. He got incredibly interested because of how dark it was (hook, line, sinker). He would sit on my computer for hours reading the conversations between the characters, and I would help him with the hard words. His grades went up significantly at school after getting interested in that game.

    He's in the Army now, take that as you like, but he went from a special slow learners class to a gifted and talented program.

  • by Jedi Alec (258881) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @06:01AM (#31506204)

    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.

    I am in my thirties. Back when I was 10 I loved spending time playing games. I also loved to go sailing, hike around the woods and otherwise have fun outdoors. The scouting group I used to sail with had a very simple policy for onboard discipline, if you failed to react in a prompt fashion you'd end up getting kicked by someone wearing army boots.

    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.

    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.

    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...)

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @06:11AM (#31506256)

    It's really within the past five years or so, with the rise of social networking, that a lot more kids have appeared on the Internet. Although I think kids should be policed better by their parents, I don't think it's a great issue them having access to such a great communications tool, within moderation.

    However, what really shocks me is the level of their language and grammar skills. You look through comments on Facebook, YouTube etc. and aside from the large amount of swearing and abusing they seem to do, the quality of what most of them write is appalling! No capitalisation at the beginnings of sentences, no apostrophes, very little and poor use of punctuation...

    I really used to think that this was just some part of their "street speak" and just a fashion thing, but it is everywhere now and I can only put it down to a huge decrease in the quality of education since I was at school between the late 60s and 1980.

    It's also really disturbing that in the UK at the moment, 1 in 6 sixteen year old school-leavers don't have jobs and if the quality of the grammar I've seen is anything to go by, I can see why unfortunately.

  • by jonnyboy3us (1176709) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @10:09AM (#31507948)
    I agree that games can help many improve their skills in many areas. My son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when he was three years old. His main difficulty had to do with Coarse Motor Skills and Physical Fitness. Knowing this, we decided to get a Wii and Wii Fit. He's played that game more times than I can remember. He especially loves the 'Marble Madness' game and the Soccer Dodge game. This game has done wonders for his physical activity level and he is more coordinated now more than ever. He was able to get out of the Special Needs program when he was 6 1/2 years old which was amazing. Now, he's seven and reads at a 3rd grader's level. He's mastered everything in his class with straight A's. Sure, he plays Super Mario Wii. However, the applications that game makes him go through are insane. Yet he still progresses well academically. A great motivator for him is the classic "I'll take away the game for 'x' days if you don't get your homework done." My belief is if games are monitored and chosen for the appropriate age, then there's no need to worry about them. They teach skills that cannot be traditionally taught. This is a well known fact. We'll see how things evolve. However, I can't wait until I'm playing Star Wars in my holodeck here in 10 years. :)

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