Saturday 3 December 2016

Video games, not Facebook or Twitter, lead to poorer exam results

Rhiannon Williams

Published 12/10/2015 | 11:02

Halo 3 is set to be one of the biggest-selling video games of all time
Halo 3 is set to be one of the biggest-selling video games of all time

Playing video games is more likely to have a negative impact on a child's exam results than using social media, a study has found.

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Around 77pc of 14 to 16 year-olds who play games rarely achieved five 'good' GCSE grades, compared to 41pc who play games twice a day, the report claimed.

Despite social media being a much more popular activity among those examined, with 81pc on young people using networks daily, no link was found between intensive social networking and poor exam performance.

The study, conducted on students within Northern Ireland by the National Children's Bureau, found than four in 10 spent four or more hours a day online during their GCSE year, with those who used a computer for three hours daily to complete homework obtaining the best GCSE results - with 79pc achieving A* to C grades.

GCSE students who rarely played video games were more likely to gain higher results than those who played twice daily, the report found.

Students without internet access at home were found to be at a significant disadvantage, with only 29pc obtaining five good grades compared to 68pc of those with home WiFi.

"Young People are often so confident in their use of new technology that we can forget they need our support to establish good habits," said Celine McStravick, director of the National Children’s Bureau in Northern Ireland.

"Our research shows that using a computer for homework can help pupils consolidate learning and do better in exams, so schools should be regularly setting homework that requires the use of a computer and the internet," she added.

Social media use has been blamed for exposing children to danger, disrupting their sleep and forcing them into the hands of psychologists to seek help with coping with the pressures of appearing popular on social media.

A 2012 study found that pupils with regular access to games based on traditional favourites such as space invaders and football penalty shoot-outs significantly improved their scores in GCSE English, maths and science.

Teachers said the use of the system – employed by some 900 primary and secondary schools – promoted “stealth learning”, with children unwittingly picking up key skills while being engrossed in computer games.

It was also claimed that they created healthy competition between pupils who sought to achieve higher scores and climb school leader boards.

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