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    Video Games May Impair Boys' Learning

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    US scientists from Denison University have come to the conclusion that owning a video game system may impair academic performance of young boys.

    According to the new findings, young boys who have a video game console at home do not progress as quickly in school as their counterparts who do not own such gaming devices. The study's findings are based on interviews with teachers and is the first controlled trial to analyze the effects of playing video games on learning in young boys.

    The research involved 64 boys between the ages of six and nine years old who did not yet have a video game system at home but whose parents had been planning to buy one. All of the boys were asked to take tests in reading, writing and mathematics at the beginning of the study and then either received a video game system PlayStation II plus three rated E video games right away, or four months later, after the experiment was completed. In addition, the boys' parents and teachers were asked to complete appropriate questionnaires that were related children's behavior at home and at school.

    Over the period of four months, the parents were recording their children's activities from the end of the school day until they went to bed at night. At the same time, all the kids repeated the reading and writing tests and parents and teachers again filled out the behavioral questionnaires.

    The results of this study revealed that boys who received PlayStation II and started playing video games immediately, spent less time doing homework and other school-related academic activities, when compared to the boys who did not have video game consoles at home. These boys also did not perform as well on the subsequent reading and writing tests, although there was no difference between the groups when it came to the math assessment scores.

    Although there were no differences in parent-reported behavioral problems between the two groups of boys, the boys who received PlayStation II right away, had greater teacher-reported learning problems. Further analysis showed that the time children spend playing video games may link the relationship between having a video game system and reading and writing scores. The investigators say that according to their findings, video games may be displacing after-school learning and may impair reading and writing development in young boys.

    Robert Weis, an associate professor of psychology at Denison University in Ohio, and a principal author of the study, said that more research is required in order to determine if these new findings apply over the long-term. However, meanwhile, the experts are encouraging parents to provide their kids with a variety of after-school activities, limiting time children spend playing video games as well as TV time.

    The study, titled "Effects of Video-Game Ownership on Young Boys' Academic and Behavioral Functioning," is published in the journal Psychological Science.

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