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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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  • It's true (Score:5, Funny)

    by assemblerex (1275164) * on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:35AM (#31505526)
    Thanks to Legend of Zelda my basic math sucked for years. I did however beat Ganon with the wooden sword.
  • Duh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by TOGSolid (1412915) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @03:39AM (#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.
  • 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.

    • Well, RPG's use to involve reading. Now the games talk to you.

    • by tancque (925227) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:33AM (#31505756) Journal
      I Agree. Most games I played were English, which improved my English grade considerably (I'm Dutch). My vocabulary was a bit unusual, though. Not many kids at 12 used words like grue, "lantern of everburn" or "twisty passages all alike"
  • 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 Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:33AM (#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 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:37AM (#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 hedwards (940851)
        Does it though? Whenever I've gotten a new console, I've played it a hell of a lot more than I did 6 months later.

        From the article:

        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.

        And in other news water is wet, blue sky is blue and somewhere a politician is taking a bribe. There's nothing video game specific about this. What they seem to have done is demonstrate that spending less time studying causes issues with academics. That's a shocker.

        • by Moryath (553296)

          Yeah but if you say it like that you don't get a ton of money from the Joe Lieberman types and a bunch of press whores clamoring to give you free airtime...

      • by aicrules (819392)
        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. However, this could easily apply to ANY activity that takes away time from studying. Perhaps it would eventually show that kids with access to video games are more likely to play video games instead of doing homework. If it was causation, then what it would be saying is the act of playing video games dilutes the childrens' minds' abil
        • by DavidShor (928926) <supergeek717 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @09:52AM (#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 El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte@@@drunksnipers...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 Calinous (985536)

      Aight, I put on my robe and wizard hat

      • In other words, playing FPS games keeps you behind in reading skills, playing RPGs lead to weird social behaviour. You can't win. Stop playing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      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.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by suisui (1134031)
        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.
        • Same here. My English sucked. Badly. I was close to failing every year.

          Then text adventures became popular. 'nuff said.

          • by elucido (870205)

            Same here. My English sucked. Badly. I was close to failing every year.

            Then text adventures became popular. 'nuff said.

            'nuff isn't a word. Your English still sucks.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Belial6 (794905)
              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.
      • by xaxa (988988)

        How old was he? I spent very, very little time in front of a TV or computer, instead my parents interacted with me. Often this included reading books.

        I first use the computer when I was 2 (1988), starting with a painting programme [drawmouse.com]. When I was about 5 my dad taught me to use AutoSketch (the 2D-only version of AutoCAD). That was also when he bought the first games -- but they were all from an educational catalogue. There were non-educational games from age 7-ish, but I wasn't generally allowed to spend more t

    • by glwtta (532858)
      Because I doubt playing text heavy RPG or adventure games has a negative influence on reading.

      You just really confused everyone under the age of 25.
  • 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.
    • by linzeal (197905) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:06AM (#31505644) Homepage Journal

      " Get a man that haven't had sex in 6 years and give him a girlfriend and analize what happens "

      Kinky, I'm pretty sure you can find many volunteers in the Slashdot population who would like to participate in this study of yours.

    • by WCMI92 (592436)

      I started with the Atari 2600, but did most of my childhood gaming on the Commodore VIC-20 and 64. Didn't hurt my learning any, and probably helped it, given my love for text adventures like Zork, et all.

    • by Drethon (1445051)
      Yep, I've been a gamer since my dad bought a Commodore 128. Now I'm working through my Master's in Computer Science after completing a Computer Engineering Bachelor's. I wonder how much higher my Masters's 4.0 GPA would be if I wasn't a gamer...
    • 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). [...] 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.

      I'm more curious about why these kids didn't have game systems (no, I didn't read he article). In my experience, even lower middle-class families have game systems (sometimes in higher variety than upper middle-class; NHL 2010 for XBOX is a lot less expensive than playing real hockey). Only _really_ poor families are the ones doing completely without, and don't kids from poor families do worse in school on average anyway?

  • 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 Calinous (985536)

      Funny, but also insightful

    • by DavidShor (928926)
      Sarcasm aside, if you can show the effectiveness of "locking kids in a library", I'd be for it. From a liberty perspective, locking kids in libraries and restricting their access to video games is hardly tyrannical compared to the whole "Forcing them to sit still for 8 hours a day, to the point where they must ask permission to use the bathroom" thing. So adding a little bit here and there to improve outcomes doesn't bother me.
      • Umm, I guess it depends on the timescales involved, but generally it is more tyrannical than "Forcing them to sit still for 8 hours a day, to the point where they must ask permission to use the bathroom". Unless the library has a bathroom in it. Which I suppose it might, if you mean a separate building rather than an attached section of a school or something. Is it common to send young kids to non-school libraries for schoolwork?

        Also, do American schools actually last even close to 8 hours? At ages 6-9,

        • My bathroom IS the library, you insensitive clod!

          Seriously. Where else do you need a lot of books?

        • by mooingyak (720677)

          Also, do American schools actually last even close to 8 hours? At ages 6-9, my elementary school in Ontario went from 9:00-3:30 (actually slightly earlier than 3:30 or later than 9:00, but the exact times changed year to year), with an hour for lunch -- 20 minutes to eat inside and 40 minutes of middle recess -- and two 15 minute short recesses, one at 10:30 and one at 2:15.

          At my daughters' elementary school (in NY), it's currently 8:30 - 2:45 with a slightly less than an hour long lunch break in the middle

    • by hey! (33014)

      I don't know if this counts as being "locked in the library", but my kids are 14 and 11 years old, and I still read to them every night. I started reading to them while they were in the womb -- not as an experiment, but because my wife and I read to each other. By the time they were in kindergarten, most of their favorite books were things like Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels or P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves stories. When my daughter's fourth grade class was assigned the task of picking a favorite poem to r

      • Please continue reading to your kids as long as you can. You will likely never know how much of an impact it will have on their lives to have had parents who loved them and cared enough to put the time into a family activity like reading. My dad was a workaholic and the only family activity he ever did with us was read. Giving your kids a love of literature is one of the best gifts you can give them - that, and your time.
  • What is this Fox news? Come on people!
  • So, why don't they give them books and pencils instead?

    Some people.

  • ... kids who spend less time reading and writing by doing [insert activity here] has less developed learning skills, stay tuned for more!
  • 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?

    • Whether the use of the Playstation was moderated or not was left up to the parents. What I think this study shows is that a Playstation is more distracting from studying than other leisure activity options and therefore requires greater parental moderation than other behaviors. Although, now that I have written that, it may, also, be that parents are more likely to moderate other behaviors that are as (or more) likely to prove a distraction from study (TV watching comes to mind).
      This study is one that is p
  • Games (along with books, comics and films) taught me most of the English I know today. I would expect this effect to be significant in general, especially for kids today. But of course, for kids who already speak English, the effect is likely different.

    Anyway, I'm sure you could find this effect for any two activities for kids. Games slow down studies, studies slow down athletic achievement, athletic achievement slows down something else. And as someone already pointed out, sex could potentially slow everyt

  • 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 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?
      • by Eivind (15695)

        Sure. But the argument is still a good one. Kids who get a shiny new fun toy which doesn't directly contribute a lot to academic learning, will generally spend some time with the toy, and might as a result of that learn less than they otherwise would.

        The study is spesifically about playstations. 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 ? Would kids who got a new funky bike spend

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by glwtta (532858)
          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, obvio
    • by Trepidity (597)

      It also looks at very narrow measures of school performance: reading, writing, and spelling. Unless it's a very dialogue-heavy videogame, those are admittedly among the areas not likely to be improved by videogame playing. Notably, the study excludes any investigation of math/science/tech skills or interest, which might plausibly be actually increased.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      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.

    • Because the researchers raise your second point themselves:
      "More research is also needed to determine if these findings apply over the long-term, Weis said.
      "It could be that the novelty of video games wears off after four or six or eight months, and they basically don't play as much as they did when they first got the system," he said."

    • 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.

      TFA basically says that. Whoever posted this to Slashdot, of course, didn't.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:33AM (#31505760) Journal

    This study doesn't really show anything new.

    It is well known that any student who spends less time studying will learn less then a student who spends more time.

    Kids who spend a lot of time with sports, or have an artitic career tend to do less in academic pursuits. Of course there are exceptions but it ain't generally a surprise to find most jocks and girl/boy-bands to be dumb as shit.

    There are other pursuits as well. Remember this one, the less sex you have in high school the more intelligent you are. (My IQ? 20... yes really. I swear... oh okay. 200)

    Well no shit sherlock. There are 24 hours in a day, no matter how you try, you can only do so much in a single day and if you spend 30 seconds having sex, that is 30 seconds less study time.

    So basically, kids who study less, learn slower. Shocking! Deny this study and you just look silly and are basically saying that a guy who spends all his time on the track should expect to be an A student.

    • If the amount of sex in high school determined one's IQ level then I would have solved the remaining six Millennium Prize Problems.

    • Except is it really the case that kids, without a playstation, could still find nothing they'd rather do than study?

      Maybe. But that would be news. Because I think even without a playstation homework is boring and playing with foam swords or whatever is fun. Maybe even kids with kid-like energy get tired of everything else so are only up for homework or playsation? I don't know.

  • Ok, we had to program them when I was a kid. But through fussball, handheld space invaders and other late 70s/early 80s devices and systems, I learned to love the gadget world that I now depend on for a living. So, /eloquence mode off/ go screw yourself Mr Ohio! Oh, and my boy can read and write fine (for a five year old) despite the odd burst of Lego Star Wars or Mario Kart!
  • ...games were more picturebook than cinema. One of my strong motivators for learning to read earlier than my peers was wanting to play text-heavy NES games like Dragon Warrior, Xexyz or Faxanadu.

    Perhaps in this age of of movie-like games we should start our kids off playing text adventures...
  • 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 Inda (580031)
      My Spectrum 48k came with 6 games, only my parents didn't let me have all of them in one go, stating the edjucation thing.

      They were willing to buy me programming books though. I got them to buy me gaming books, filled with lines and lines of code.

      These days, I play far to many games. I'll be forty soon and I cannot read or write for shit.
  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • Are there downsides? Sure... he lightsabers the dog too much...

      I shudder to think what that euphemism could mean...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jonnyboy3us (1176709)
      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.
  • 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 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

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jedi Alec (258881)

      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

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fantastic Lad (198284)

        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

    • 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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      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.
    • "we're getting more violent, we're dumber, etc."

      truth is, violence has gone way down, and literacy has gone way up, on a number of time spans

      food has gotten safer (food spoilage kills way more than whatever trace chemicals scare you this month), new and different media has increased social skills

      watch tv and play video games: both can be used for your personal growth and enjoyment, and this makes us far smarter, happy, and wealthier than past, more brutal, dumber generations

    • But the fundamental truth is that when drugs are freely available, drugs usually win.

      Cocaine used to be found in dozens of products in any given general store in the United States, including Coca-Cola. There was a time when there were no prohibited substances, and in fact the first prohibitions on things like cocaine were race-based (because whitey thought that black people were not 'controlled' enough to handle the substances as they were, look it up). There is a portion of society that will abuse substances. That portion doesn't really fluctuate all that much regardless of law (the 18th A

  • by SharpFang (651121)

    I wonder how would the results compare if they used a decently equipped PC instead of a PS3...

  • 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 CAIMLAS (41445)

      Congratulations on your son's success. I'm sure you're quite proud.

      As everyone is saying, it pretty much depends on which games are being played. There are mindless games, and there are ones which impart life skills.

      For instance, my son got better at chess (he's 6) after spending copious amounts of time playing Red Alert 3 (and finally figuring out how to use individual units). Sure, he doesn't like playing chess as much as he used to (he's on a huge RA3 kick now, of course) but he's better at it due to men

    • The main point here is probably not that the kid learned because of a game - the kid learned, because you took time for him and helped him advance. Anyway, the problem with studies like this is that "gaming" is not a homogenous occupation. I spent much of my youth playing Infocom adventures and rather elaborate strategy games like Harpoon. This is in no way comparable to spending my time with shooters and racing games. The latter might have improved my hand-to-eye coordination and reaction times, while doin
  • Why do they thing nature invented games? It’s training for reality. Or in other words: Learning?

    The only question is: What do you learn?
    And that is a decision, parents have to make.

    But hey, it’s so easy for incompetent parents and governments, to just blame games.
    Maybe those people should have played a bit more with puppets, dogs, and other children when they were young...

    But hey... to them, school is still considered good education. When all it is, is drill, to create obeying little drones. Jus

    • Yes yes, thank you Murphy’s law, for creating a typo right in the first sentence, when talking about education. ;)
      And thank you too for me noticing it right between pressing “submit”, and the new page loading, so I can have a little moment of panic...

  • This kind of study really annoys me. From the article:

    >The researchers think the learning problems result from the drop in after-school actives with educational value.

    In other words, it isn't actually video games that are the problem, but the kids doing less "after-school actives with educational value" - i.e. this is an issue for the parents.

    I let my six year old son play his Playstation for some hours at the weekend, on the condition that every night he reads to me. Learning to read is hard work, usin

  • I would like to see a study done where my children are tossed into the mix.

    First of all, all three have a very strong desire to read which I instilled into them thanks to bedtime stories, reading times, and the allowing of the children to stay up late if they weren't tired...provided that they were reading.

    This didn't impact sleep as the most determined of them only made it 45 minutes as a record before sleep clubbed them like baby harp seals.

    They also enjoy interactive past times such as Role Playing games

  • Now if they had said excessive game playing negatively impacted room cleaning and bathing...
  • I wonder why they didn't study girls?

  • Personally, I think playing text adventure games when I was a kid greatly improved my reading and writing skills. I'm old.
  • I grew up playing video games. I've had an Atari, NES, Genesis, several Game Boys, a Game Gear, PS1, PS2, Xbox, 360, and played computer games. Also played sports from around 2nd grade all the way through college. I am now in a Political Science graduate program at a research university that emphasises methods. That means a strong reliance on math, language, and critical thinking. It has nothing to do with the time that kids have. For about half my life, I was playing in at least 2 sports a year. Tha

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