'Gaming' sends boys' test scores sliding - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

'Gaming' sends boys' test scores sliding

Posted: Updated:

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- New research shows that young boys who own a video game system don't do as well academically as their non-playing peers, suggesting that time spent playing video games is supplanting time spent on homework.

Study author Robert Weis, an associate professor of psychology at Denison University in Ohio, said that "we can never say with 100 percent certainty that it's playing video games that causes kids to have delays or deficits in reading and writing performance, but ... we can be pretty confident that it's the game ownership and the amount of time they spend playing that causes these academic delays."

Another expert agreed.

"It's a zero-sum thing. There's only so much time you can give to certain activities, and the more you spend with video games, the more likely you will not progress in academic achievement," explained Alan Delamater, director of clinical psychology at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami.

The study, published online and in the April issue of Psychological Science, involved 64 boys between the ages of 6 and 9 whose families did not yet own a video game system but had been thinking about purchasing one.

All of the boys took reading, writing and math tests at the beginning of the study and then either received a video game system plus three games immediately or in four months, after the study was completed.

Boys who received and started playing video games right away spent less time doing homework and other after-school academic activities than the boys without video game systems, the study found.

They also did not do as well on follow-up reading and writing tests, although no difference between the groups was found in the math scores.

There were no behavioral changes reported, and all scores still remained within the normal range, Delamater noted.

The researchers could not say with certainty why the differences emerged with reading and writing but not math, but they could guess.

"These children probably don't engage in a lot of math-based after-school activities," Weis said. "You can imagine a little boy going home and reading a story or having his parents read to him, but you can't really imagine a first-grade boy wanting to do math problems for fun. There's not a whole lot of displacement there."

The fact that video games can cut into study time seems to be an obvious explanation, but there could be others, the researchers said.

"Video games could affect a child's brain, particularly executive functioning, and it could compromise his or her ability to do well in certain academic activities," Weis said. In children, executive functioning refers to such things as their ability to manage time and keep track of more than one thing at once.

In any event, Delamater said, "parents should be limiting the exposure these kids have to video games."

Or at least calling for balance, Weis noted.

"I tell students that we have to follow Aristotle's golden mean and that is to strive for moderation in all the things that we do," he said. "That means moderation in after-school academic activities like homework and also moderation in video-game playing and other recreational activities."

More information

The Kaiser Family Foundation has more on video-game playing.

Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Astria Health - Health AlertMore>>

  • Critical need for blood donations

    Critical need for blood donations

    Wednesday, November 14 2018 8:14 PM EST2018-11-15 01:14:07 GMT
    UNITED STATES - The American Red Cross is asking for people to add one item to their holiday to-do list: donate blood. The charity is experiencing a blood shortage after receiving 21,000 fewer donations than usual during September and October. Right now there is a critical need for Type O blood - both positive and negative. The Red Cross says it needs to collect more than 13,000 blood donations every day to meet the daily need.  More >>
    UNITED STATES - The American Red Cross is asking for people to add one item to their holiday to-do list: donate blood. The charity is experiencing a blood shortage after receiving 21,000 fewer donations than usual during September and October. Right now there is a critical need for Type O blood - both positive and negative. The Red Cross says it needs to collect more than 13,000 blood donations every day to meet the daily need.  More >>
  • Tickborne illnesses at all-time high

    Tickborne illnesses at all-time high

    Wednesday, November 14 2018 8:11 PM EST2018-11-15 01:11:27 GMT
    UNITED STATES - The number of tickborne diseases in the U.S. is at an all-time high. This is according to a new report released by the CDC on Wednesday, November 14. Nearly 60,000 people were diagnosed with a tickborne illness last year... mostly Lyme disease. Scientists believe temperatures, rainfall, and humidity may all play a factor in the rise. The report says more work needs to be done to prevent and control ticks and tickborne infections.More >>
    UNITED STATES - The number of tickborne diseases in the U.S. is at an all-time high. This is according to a new report released by the CDC on Wednesday, November 14. Nearly 60,000 people were diagnosed with a tickborne illness last year... mostly Lyme disease. Scientists believe temperatures, rainfall, and humidity may all play a factor in the rise. The report says more work needs to be done to prevent and control ticks and tickborne infections.More >>
  • Disinfectants could affect child obesity, Canadian study shows

    Disinfectants could affect child obesity, Canadian study shows

    Monday, November 12 2018 7:59 PM EST2018-11-13 00:59:10 GMT

    A new Canadian study says the disinfectants that we use in our homes could make children fat.

    More >>

    A new Canadian study says the disinfectants that we use in our homes could make children fat.

    More >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/