After young boys receive their first video game system they don’t progress as quickly in school as boys who don’t own such devices, a study published this month in the journal Psychological Science has found.
Researchers Robert Weis and Brittany C. Cerankosky of Denison University in Granville, Ohio, recruited families who had boys between the ages of 6 and 9 and who did not own video-game systems. The families of the 64 boys who were selected were promised a PlayStation II gaming system and three video games in exchange for their participation, with half receiving the video-gaming system immediately and half getting it four months later.
After the first four months, the study found, the new gamers had lower reading and writing scores than the boys who did not yet own video games. Compared with the control group, the new video-game owners also had more learning problems, as reported by their teachers.
Part of the problem may be that the boys who received their gaming system right away spent more time playing video games (39.3 minutes vs. 9.3 minutes) and less time (18.2 minutes vs. 31.6 minutes) in after-school academic activities.
A version of this article appeared in the March 31, 2010 edition of Education Week as Video Games and Learning