Can video games be good for grades? New study suggests yes, within reason

A recent study released by Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia suggests that teens who engage in online gaming may have better grades than teens who do not.


Alberto Posso, the author of the study, used data collected by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2012, covered 772 Australian schools and 12, 018 students. Most of the students were fifteen years old. Academic achievement was measured by a standardized test covering math, science, and reading.


In addition to the academic test, the participants were also asked about their internet usage– frequency and type of activity. The researchers were particularly interested in whether or not the students participated in social media and online gaming and how often they did so.


Online social networking associated with lower than average academic scores. The more often the student engaged in social media (Never, once or twice a month, once or twice a week, almost every day, every day), the lower the scores.


However, online gaming associated with higher than average scores in math, science, and reading. Gaming more often was associated with higher scores, but only up to a point; gaming almost every day was correlated with higher academic scores than gaming every day.


The differences in this study can be helpful in determining the quality and value of online activities. While it’s easy to lump all screen-related activities into one category, obviously there are many, many different possibilities for screen time. While some people actively engage with social media by creating vlogs, writing, or making memes, for most people, social media is a passive activity. On the other hand, online gaming is intensely interactive and often spacial and strategic reasoning. When helping teens choose digital hobbies, active pursuits are clearly more beneficial than passive recreation.


Another noteworthy finding of this study is the bell curve association between online gaming and academic scores. There was a point at which more time gaming was less helpful, which may indicate the addictive nature of online gaming as well as the need for restraint in any extracurricular activity. Teens who play online games obsessively or do any activity to excess often neglect their studies, health, and other, more important aspects of life.


The study is published in the International Journal of Communication, and you can read it here.


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