Researchers from Denison University in Ohio have published results of a study into how time spent playing videogames might dislodge other activities, such as studying, among young boys.
ScienceBlogs.com has a recap of the study, which was conducted on 64 boys between the ages of six and nine years old who did not already possess a videogame console. Researchers Robert Weis and Brittany Cerankosky gave half the group PlayStation 2 systems, while the remaining boys continued through life console-less.
All the boys in the study kept a diary on their daily habits. The group with consoles averaged 40 minutes a day playing games and 18 minutes per day on after-school studying, while the non-gamer group averaged nine minutes a day gaming (on a friend or relative’s game machine) and about 32 minutes a day studying out of school.
Four months into the study researchers found that ”the budding gamers had significantly lower reading and writing scores,” while the non-gamer group improved their reading and writing skills. It was also reported that addition of gaming to their repertoire had no effect on mathematical skills in the group of boys with PS2’s, which the author credits more to a lack of math-based leisure activities for videogames to displace.
The researchers concluded: “Our findings suggest that video-game ownership may impair academic achievement for some boys in a manner that has real-world significance.”
The author of the piece believes that more credence should be lent to the study because it was conducted as a randomized controlled trial (RCT). He writes, “By doing a trial, Weis and Cerankosky have clarified the direction of cause and effect.”