Research: Tailored Video Games Can Help Children Get Better Grades

April 8, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

A new study from a team of researchers in Buenos Aires concludes that letting young children play specialized computer games can lead to improved grades in school. A paper detailing the research was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers enlisted the assistance of 111 first graders in Argentina to determine if children who play tailored computer games could demonstrate what is known in the profession as "far transfer" of executive functions to the real world.

Participants were taken from regular school activities three times a week to a separate area where half of them played specially designed video games (those that have been created specifically to improve memory and planning) for 15 minutes, for a period of ten weeks. The other half played regular video games. Children were monitored before and after play to see if the video game playing had any impact on their grades.

Work and testing in the regular classroom remained unchanged and the teachers were not told the nature of the study until after it was over.

Researchers found that those children who played the special video game (prior to the study they had lower grades due mainly to infrequent attendance) achieved higher test scores on their regular school work than they had up to that point.

While researchers admit that their research doesn't prove that it was the video games alone that caused the improved grades, it does suggest that specially designed video games can cause desired changes in executive functions.

More details on the study can be found here.

Source: Medical Xpress

Image is © 2014, Shutterstock. All rights reserved, used with permission.


Re: Research: Tailored Video Games Can Help Children Get ...

Given the comment about the lower grades being due to poor attendance, the study would presumably need to control for changes in attendance. If attendance improved during the test--because, say, they're getting to play video games at school--that would have to be taken into account. Having a group that played regular games as a control and another (the remainder of the students) that plays none should help with this factor.

Re: Research: Tailored Video Games Can Help Children Get ...

What is this odd resistance to using control groups?


Andrew Eisen

Re: Research: Tailored Video Games Can Help Children Get ...

Presumably the half of the kids who played regular commercial video games constituted the control group, although I haven't read the study to be sure 

Re: Research: Tailored Video Games Can Help Children Get ...

Kids who played no video games would be the control group.


Andrew Eisen

Re: Research: Tailored Video Games Can Help Children Get ...

Well not necessarily.  From what I understand (from description, again, in openness, not having read the study), it seems like they want to test whether specifically tailored video games contribute to academic achievement.  In such a case it would be that they are comparing these specially tailored video games to regular commercial video games and thus the regular games are the control group).  Again, this is just from the brief description so I might be missing something if you've actually read the study in detail. 

Re: Research: Tailored Video Games Can Help Children Get ...

How much better one game works to another is pretty useless without knowing how those results compare to children who are not using videogames.

It's like doing a study to see how plants grow under different colors of light (something I did for a grade school science fair).  The observation that plants grow better under red light than violet is meaningless without knowing how they grow in white light (and to be perfectly thorough, no light).


Andrew Eisen

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