back to article Study shows gaming can hinder reading, writing progress

A study has confirmed what any savvy parent could have told you: young boys who are given games consoles may fail to advance as far academically as their Wii, Xbox and PlayStation-less peers. A team from the Denison University in Ohio led by psychologists Robert Weis and Brittany Cerankosky gave PlayStation 2s to 32 boys out …


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  1. Phillip Webster

    I blame the spoken word

    Back in my day you had to READ the dialogue to play games.

    Bring back text adventures!

  2. The Original Ash


    Novelty value of new toy means kids spend more time with it than with older toys.

    Kids who are not actively monitored and guided will spend more time playing games than working.

    Parents should ensure children do their homework before playing games, study learns.

    Seriously... Worst "science" ever.

    1. Captain Save-a-ho

      Key word is guided

      Couldn't agree more, mate. People love to put their kids on "auto-pilot" instead of actively participating in their kids' development. That's why so many kids have their own TVs, phones, computers, DVD players, game consoles, ad infinitum.

      It's moments like this that make me grateful that my parents were lower middle class and couldn't afford all the auto-pilot distractions of other families.

  3. Citizen Kaned


    im 35. when i grew up all i did was make models, watch old ww2 war films, play star wars, lego and football

    how would any of those help me with school work? lego was the only one that did anything by making my imagination really flow and football which kept me relatively fit

    the fact is that the vast majority of boys like something more than reading. we are much more active than girls (who prefer reading at that age)

    anyone else think these people will not be happy until they can prove that video games cause cancer, sex crimes and all murders?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    When I was a kid I spent 90% of my time jumping out of trees and playing army and sleeping (had to be in bed by 8 (during the week) 9 (at the weekend)) no games consoles in sight, still couldn't read or write properly till I was 9 when I got a specialist teacher.

    Was it the jumping and climbing that did it I wonder? Don't care though, they were good times, friends, trees, plummeting to the ground, good times. I think the biggest problem now days is parents being too retarded to send their kids out to play with a "don't come back till lunch" everyones too scared they'll start shooting heroine, join a gang and, get molested by a random stranger. How'd they play their games machine if you did that eh? They wouldn't, that's how.

    *ramble, ramble, ramble*

    Anyway it isn't the machines fault, it's the parents fault, it's like it isn't alcholes fault if you get blind drunk and knock your brains out on the floor - it's your fault, you chose to get blind drunk, live with it. If you raise an emotionally retarded kid becouse you refused to let them develop, it's your fault, bar the rare case where the kid actually has a real learning/emotional problem which are often picked up on now days.

  5. Marvin the Martian
    IT Angle

    What a disappointment.

    I'm shocked, shocked. I was certain that consoles produced time; no reason a minute taken by the console would mean a minute less elsewhere, right?

  6. Number6

    Or alternatively...

    It was a games console that finally encouraged my son to learn to read. He kept asking me to read the text on the screen and after I got bored of it, I'd tell him I'd come and do it when I finished what I was doing at the time, thus putting delays into his games. At some point he decided to learn to read it for himself and has easily caught up with his age group, having not really bothered until he was almost seven.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    My wife was right, I should never have got a PS One, PS2, Wii or XBOX 360. It's my fault my kids aren't going to get 10 A* at GCSE and end up going to Oxford, Cambridge or Imperial.

  8. M7S

    Didnt affect me at all badly, "Windows 7 was my idea"

    A comment is required. I suspect there might be a few coming.

    1. Captain Save-a-ho

      Didn't affect me either

      Since there's an App for that.

      Now about that coat...

  9. Euchrid

    Depends on the game?

    There have been previous studies on teenagers that suggested it was not so much playing computer games, but the type of games, that had an impact.

    In one study, it was found that after playing a session of Doom (quite a old study!), subjects poored more fairly doing a variety of intelligence tests then thay had previously, whereas with a game like Civ, the results were up. The boffins concluded that if the player has to just carry out repetitive tasks (as exciting and enjoyable these may be in a FPS), it dulls their ability to problem solve, whereas in a game where players have to make a wide variety of choices, weighing up the the pros and cons of their actions, it increases such ability.

  10. The Indomitable Gall

    Moral maze.

    So, they took a bunch of kids who didn't have consoles, gave half of them consoles, that half did worse at school, and they gave the other half consoles at the end.

    The problems:

    1) It is morally indefensible to conduct a study that has a good chance of having detrimental effects on a child's development. No matter what the results do to better the lot of future generations, harming a child mentally or physically is child abuse. Even assuming they didn't expect to see any obstacles to development, the risk was always there. Morally unacceptable.

    2) Having proved the detrimental effects of games console, they still proceeded to issue more free consoles, so they were consciously causing harm to more children. Morally unacceptable.

    3) All children entering the study were being offered a console, whether they were the console sample or the control sample. Paying research subjects is considered exploitation as it encourages vulnerable people to subject themselves to harm out of desperation. To a child without a console, a console is the equivalent of a payment of several thousand pounds to an adult. And it gets worse. There are two types of houses without games consoles or gaming PCs: type A is where the parents doesn't want them, and type B is where the parents can't afford them. Type A would not have been agreed to be involved in the experiment... unless the offer of the free console gave the child the leverage to badger the parents into allowing him to take part. The study overturns parental choice and causes harm to the child. Type B are the vulnerable people we're not supposed to pay as it encourages them to put themselves or their children in harm's way. And they have paid them to harm their children. Morally unacceptable.

    No child should be allowed to be harmed in the pursuit of knowledge for the greater good, and just because they've not been dissected doesn't mean they haven't been harmed.

    1. Rocket

      re: moral maze

      So .. what you're saying is ban research - think of the kidz?

      But this made me :/

      "boys who received the video-game system immediately spent more time playing video games"

  11. Vanir

    Manager / Worker mentality

    The Original Ash wrote:

    "Kids who are not actively monitored and guided will spend more time playing games than working."

    Managers think:

    Workers who are not actively monitored and guided will spend more time not working than working.

    Hence the paranoia of managers against IT workers working from home?

    Perhaps these managers are not parents?

  12. deadlockvictim

    fascist parent

    I put video games into the same category with TV. I don't mind them watching TV as long as one of the parents/babysitter is watching it with them and that they are neither watching for it for too long or too often. Watching TV, usually a film, is a treat, not a right. Likewise, when the children are old enough for video games and consoles, I intend to have multiplayer consoles so that one of us can play along with/against them. It will likewise be a treat and not a right (and I expect much aggro as a consequence, but, then, where would children be if they got their own way all of the time?).

    I haven't yet figured out what I'll do when they start asking for their own Internet access.

    And on a final note, I do agree with the poster about the Lego and football. I too spent my youth playing with both and I miss it now.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Small sample but...

    I've got a real problem trying to get my 8 year old son interested in reading books. He can read really well, but just enjoy sitting down with to read things. I'm having one hell of a fight trying to keep him off his Playstation though :-(

  14. Estariel
    Thumb Down

    Counter Example

    My nephew learned to read in order to be able to play Final Fantasy 7 (an RPG with a lot of text to guide the plot development and player choices). Completed FF7 at five years old.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    I find it INCREADBALE that *SUM* peepul still have a bad idea about gamerz. Were no more badder at langages than peepul that watch the soaps. But THEY never have stuff like this writed about them

    The regista, your a disgrace. I AM SHAKING !!!

  16. MinionZero

    Its interesting to assess the psychologists own bias.

    I note the psychologists don't really highlight the benefits of games such as improved motor skills such as better hand to eye coordination and improved reaction times etc... (which could be used in skilled jobs and reaction times could even help to save their life at some point in their lives). Also depending on the kinds of games other skills will improve, such as better real time problem solving and even tactical planning (both good for roles such as business management or other planning roles etc..). Some games even help train in resource management planning (especially in the case of god games) which is useful for a lot of business roles in life etc.. All these skills could be major benefits in real life.

    So I find it interesting the psychologists seek to focus on the narrow negatives of what is to a large extent rote learning skills. But then these psychologists are funded by a university, so their management people want to encourage people to go into academic roles.

    Also not everyone is cut out for life in an academic role and even though I was, I wish I had focused more on additional non-academic aspects of life earlier than I had, because often these additional management and business skills end up earning better money than a lot of purely academic roles and even within academic roles, management and business skills help a great deal. So there can be a lot of good learned from games in preparation for life. Even better, these additional skills are also essential to anyone who wishes to be more entrepreneurial in life.

    It annoys me the psychologists are being so biased in their assessment of games, seeking to focus on just the negatives. That isn't a scientific assessment as they seek to emphasis and so bias towards negatives, instead of giving a balanced assessment, but it is a way for them to win them brief press attention for their biased work and attention for their university.

    Surely the end goal is a balanced education that integrates academic lessons with additional education from games. In which case games can be seen as increasing the child's potential giving them better life prospects, which is surely the end goal of any educational system. Its interesting how the psychologists ignore these major benefits and only focus on promoting negative headlines.

  17. Semaj


    I know this study was conducted in America so the culture is different but ...

    Generally I found that the kids in my primary school who had consoles were the smarter ones and would choose to read on their own or play constructive games. The ones without consoles were too busy playing futbol and smashing stuff and are now (as far as I know) on the dole or in prison.

  18. edwardecl

    Sounds odd to me...

    I have used computers pretty much all my life and mostly for gaming although not exclusively.

    I do not read books (other than educational material), I don't think I have ever finished a story book on my own, maybe I have lack of imagination but they bore me and so do not read them.

    So obviously I should be a complete dimwit that cant read or write then (ok my handwriting sucks). ^^.

    I say maybe they should do their study on what types of games they are playing. As someone above has said what about good old text adventures, or stuff that actually writes stuff on screen rather than being talkie. I was always taught to do homework and school stuff first before doing anything else so maybe this is a factor perhaps?

    Maybe playing in traffic is better then...

  19. Ross 7

    Basic parenting

    All things in moderation. Nowt wrong with playnig a bit of football, reading a few books, playing computer games, playing guitar etc as long as they're done in moderation. If they are done to extreme and your kid ends up not doing their school work then I'm pretty sure we can all make a decent prediction of the outcome.

    There was a "Jo Frost Extreme Parenting" on the other week (apparantly, so I hear...) where some "mother" was whining about her 8 year old playing WoW for 12 hours a day. Obviously that begs the questions how did he end up with a PEGI 12 game in the first place, and who the hell pays his subs?! Turned out he played it for 12 hours a day 'cause he was bored to death as his "mother" did nowt with him. Once he had some time with his ma he forgot about WoW.

    Frankly if you let your kid forego their school work for any reason at all it's *your* problem. As stated by other posters - homework *then* play (whatever form that may take).

  20. Nick Thompson


    My rubbish primary school pretty much failed to teach me to read and write. In the end I learnt myself from the civilopedia in Civilization 1 (with some help from my brother).

  21. perlcat
    Thumb Up

    re: RUBBASH


    Just in case you were wondering, I am not laughing *with* you. I am laughing *at* you.

    (excuse me for a minute, while I head out back and BURN my kid's video games.)

  22. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    "subjects poored more fairly doing a variety of intelligence tests"

    Can you explain is that good or bad, I can't tell.

  23. Ondrej Doubek
    Thumb Up

    The problem is not the kids console but the parents TV!

    @ deadlockvictim

    "Watching TV, usually a film, is a treat, not a right. (...) I intend to have multiplayer consoles so that one of us can play along with/against them"

    ... that pretty much sums it up for me. I aim to rather be that "facist parent' than a lazy, disinterested, nonsupporting, non guiding, "leave me alone I am tired from work" type couch potato.

    I realize that too many people don't consider time dedicated fully and undivided to their kids as quality time- which is hard fort me to understand. Most problems kids can cause or get into result IMHO directly or indirectly from exactly this.

    Bad scores in school included.

  24. Ondrej Doubek

    re: RUBBASH

    doody, you totally managed to drive the articles point home!

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