Gaming is good for students but Facebook can lead to failure

Peter Terlato 9 August 2016

student child gaming laptop headphones

Punishing your kids by taking away their video games may not be the best idea.

New research has revealed video games could help school students develop and improve learning skills, while teens that use social media on a daily basis are more likely to fall behind in core subjects.

RMIT University's school of economics, finance and marketing associate professor Alberto Posso says the results of a study conducted by the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) suggests teenagers who played video games almost every day scored above average results in maths and science.

PISA tested the educational skill levels of more than 12,000 15-year-old Aussie kids, as well as examining their online activity.

"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.

Students who regularly play online games scored 15 points higher than the average student in maths and 17 points above the average in science.

However, teens using Facebook or chat sites every day scored 20 points less in maths than students who never used social media.

"Students who are regularly on social media are, of course, losing time that could be spent on study - but it may also indicate that they are struggling with maths, reading and science and are going online to socialise instead," Posso said.

"Teachers might want to look at blending the use of Facebook into their classes as a way of helping those students engage."

Posso said other factors, such as repeating an academic year or skipping classes also have a substantial, if not worse, impact on students' skills and educational development.

"Teachers should consider incorporating popular video games into teaching - so long as they're not violent ones," he said.

A good example may be Nintendo's relatively new online game, Pokémon GO. The free, interactive gaming app is fun and engaging, encouraging users to find wonder in the world around them and then do the maths so they can correctly battle opponents.

The study also revealed that indigenous teens or those from a minority ethnic or linguistic background were more at risk of under-performing than regular social media users.

Parents face many obstacles when it comes to their kids' education, and while monitoring social media use is important, other factors such as whether to send them to a public or private school may also impact their future.
Picture: Shutterstock

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