Video games may not necessarily affect academic results of children, unlike most parents’ perception, according to a new study. In fact, the new research claims that video games can have a very positive influence in the education of children, when used in moderation.
Ángeles Llorca Díez from the Department of Didactics of Musical, Plastic and Corporal Expression at the University of Granada, along with professors Dolores Álvarez Rodríguez (University of Granada) and Ángeles Díez Sánchez (University of Salamanca) aimed to investigate whether attitudes of users toward video games, and how they use them, have a significant impact on cognitive variables, specifically in spatial intelligence, self-efficacy and academic performance, acknowledging the existence of structured security measures that protect the child.
They analyzed a sample of 266 total participants aged between 11 and 16, together with their corresponding parents (fathers or mothers). All children were given a semi-structured interview, a survey of use and preferences in video games, two intelligence tests and an inventory of self-efficacy. Parents filled out a survey on opinions, knowledge and attitudes toward video games.
Results found that boys not only play more than girls, but they start earlier, an outcome that could be related to a clearly cultural influence. Also, it was observed that participants, as they play more often, they do it for longer periods of time, which in the opinion of Llorca Díez "confirms the concern of some researchers about the possibility that some video games are addicting".
There are also gender differences not only in the use that young people make of video games, but also in what they demand of them. Thus, boys are more stringent than girls, and prefer realistic, challenging, impressive and competitive games.
Regarding the variable of academic performance, the researcher points out that “it is not only affected by the use of video games, but also hours of study and self-efficacy perception have demonstrated predictors of school success."
Ángeles Llorca insists that video games can represent "a very useful pedagogical tool" to encourage self-efficacy, a variable that improves academic performance.