Want smarter kids? One study suggests video games
Posted August 29, 2016
For parents concerned their children may spend too much time gaming, a new Australian study of 15-year-olds has found a potential link between video games and exceptional academic performance.
The study examined the test scores and video-gaming habits of more than 12,000 Australian high school students and found that the teens who played online video games nearly every day scored 15 points higher than average in math and 17 points higher than average in science.
While the research cannot prove conclusively that gaming alone was responsible for the test performance, study author Alberto Posso told the U.K.'s The Guardian it was an encouraging argument for gaming generally.
"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 maths, reading and science that you’ve been taught during the day," Posso said in The Guardian article.
While the study didn't specify what games the teens played, it's possible the kinds of games they were playing were more important than the fact that they were playing.
Some experts suggest that some styles of video games are better than others at getting kids to think creatively and solve problems — a core principle of math and the scientific method.
First-person shooter games, for example, don't rely on much skill aside from quick reflexes and strong hand and eye coordination, while games like the wildly popular Minecraft promote creativity and originality as a tenet of play.
Another consideration for further study is motivation, or why teens play the games they do. After all, it could simply be that smart kids are drawn to video games more than others.
"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," Bath Spa University psychologist Peter Etchells told The Guardian.