Many parents, including the experts at the Technology Wellness Center, have wondered whether there was a relationship between gaming and school performance. We have heard from parents who wonder whether their average student could become above average if their gaming was decreased or eliminated. Luckily, some answers are starting to come forth. Unfortunately, research is starting to demonstrate that there may be a negative connection between gaming and school performance. The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and its National Children’s Bureau (NCB) just completed a 2-year longitudinal study of adolescents looking at a variety of issues related to technology use, including the relationship between gaming and school performance. http://www.ncb.org.uk/media/1229655/ict_me.pdf.
One of the issues addressed in this study was whether video game use impacted a student’s performance in school. According to this study, the research showed a clear link between frequency of use of games consoles/portable games player and attainment. Frequent users of these devices were more likely to underperform at school relative to their peers. In addition, a significant proportion of these young people were boys rather than girls. The study did not look at why intensive gaming led to lower achievement levels, e.g., less sleep, failure to complete homework, poor social contacts, etc. Interestingly, the study did not find that the use of social media negatively impacted school attainment.
So what can we do as parents? We must remain vigilant in limiting the amount of gaming that our children engage in on a daily or weekly basis. Accumulating research suggests that for some children excessive video game playing is detrimental in many different areas of their life. These children struggle having healthy interpersonal relationships, sleep less, and may suffer from poorer school achievement.
- Video gaming should be reserved for the weekends.
- Explain to your children that their “job” is going to school and performing to the best of their ability. On the weekends is when they can take a break from their job and play video games.
- Video game consoles should not be permitted in the bedroom.
- Parents should keep gaming devices during the week to prevent children from sneaking video game use.
- We encourage parents to participate in video gaming with their children so that they can connect with their children’s interests and understand what they are doing while playing video games.