Children who play video games online perform better on science, math, and reading tests, according to data from out of Australia. The study looked at 12,000 high school students who played video games online every day. They scored 15 points above average in math and reading and 17 points above average in science.
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However, the study cannot prove that video games led to the improvement.
Alberto Posso, a researcher from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, look at the high school students who took the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, an internationally recognized set of tests that are administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He looked at the correlation between academic scores and the interests of the children.
Posso, who was published in the International Journal of Communication, said that “The analysis shows that those students who play online video games obtain higher scores on Pisa tests, all other things being equal. When you play online games you’re solving puzzles to move to the next level and that involves using some of the general knowledge and skills in maths, reading and science that you’ve been taught during the day.”
The cause hasn't been made clear in the study. It is possible that people who are more gifted academically are attracted to playing online games. It could also be that the students who are smart work much more quickly and therefore have more time to play games.
Posso looked at the correlation between social media use and the scores as well. He found that those who use Facebook and Twitter more often scored 4% lower. Of the teenagers tested, 78% said that they used social networks every day.
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Peter Etchells, a senior lecturer in biological psychology at Bath Spa University, said: “It’s interesting that this study showed a positive correlation between online gaming and academic performance, but we really need better ways of understanding how and why people play video games before we’re able to tease apart what that correlation actually means, if anything. A number of researchers have been trying to highlight this issue for a while but we really need more detailed research and nuanced data to answer these sorts of questions more confidently.”