Video games, cell phones not likely to affect kids’ studies

March 30th, 2009 - 5:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 30 (IANS) Using cell phones or playing video games are not likely to dent children’s academic performance, according to new research.
In fact, cell phones had no effect on academic performance among a group of 12-year-olds, the researchers found in a three-year study published by the Conference Proceedings of the International Association for Development of the Information Society, or IADIS, in Barcelona, Spain.

While the researchers found a strong relationship between video games and lower grade point averages, playing video games did not appear to affect mathematics skills and had a positive relationship with visual-spatial skills.

These skills - in which a child learns visually, by thinking in pictures and images - are considered the “training wheels” for performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“And these are the areas where we want to see improvements in our children’s academic performance,” said lead investigator Linda Jackson, a professor of psychology at the Michigan State University (MSU).

The study is part of a larger MSU project, funded by the National Science Foundation, in which Jackson and colleagues are exploring the effects of technology on children’s academic performance and their social life, psychological well-being and moral reasoning.

The researchers surveyed students from 20 middle schools and an after-school centre in Michigan. They asked how often the children used cell phones and played video games, both online and offline, and measured the children’s grades, visual-spatial skills and performance on standardised tests in mathematics and reading, said a MSU release.

As expected, females used cell phones more frequently than did males, while males played video games far more frequently than did females.

Some 81 percent of adolescents play video games online, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

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