University research finds positive correlation between playing online games and high academic scores

Students who regularly play online video games tend to achieve higher scores in science, math and reading tests, a recent study concludes.

Based on data collected from over 12,000 high school students in Australia, a researcher from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) found that those who played online games almost every day achieved up to 15 points above average scores in math and reading tests, and 17 points above average in science.

Alberto Posso, who published his study in the International Journal of Communication, collected and analyzed data from students taking the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a series of tests conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) aimed at assessing the academic performances of 15-year-old school pupils across the world.

In the study, Posso looked at whether there were any links between academic scores and the students’ hobbies and activities outside of school, including internet usage.

“The analysis shows that those students who play online video games obtain higher scores on PISA tests, all other things being equal.

“When you play online games you’re solving puzzles to move to the next level and that involves using some of the general knowledge and skills in math, reading and science that you’ve been taught during the day,” said Posso, as quoted by The Guardian.

However, the study was unable to conclusively prove that video games had played a part in the students’ above-average scores.

Posso posited that students who are gifted at math, science and reading are perhaps more likely to play online games, but added that it could be due to the fact that they are more efficient in completing their schoolwork and therefore tend to finish quicker and have more free time, allowing them the freedom to play online games.

Another part of the study looked at the correlation between PISA scores and social media usage, which Posso found to have a negative effect on test scores the more time a student spent on social media platforms.  

According to Posso, those who used Facebook and Twitter were more likely to score four percent lower on average.

A senior lecturer in Biological Psychology at Bath Spa University, Peter Etchells, commented on the study, saying: “It’s interesting that this study showed a positive correlation between online gaming and academic performance, but we really need better ways of understanding how and why people play video games before we’re able to tease apart what that correlation actually means, if anything.

“A number of researchers have been trying to highlight this issue for a while but we really need more detailed research and nuanced data to answer these sorts of questions more confidently.”

Previous related studies have uncovered similar results, showing either no negative effects or positive effects of video games on academic performance.

So when your parents tell you to stop playing online games and do your homework, maybe you can cite this study and tell them that it’s part of the studying process?

…Or maybe not.

Image via Flickr 

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