A new study finds kids who play video games as a hobby and get an education don’t feel like they’re learning, study finds
More than one-third of kids in the U.S. who play games in an educational setting do not feel like learning or feel that their peers do, according to a new study from the U-M College of Arts and Sciences.
The findings, published online Monday in the journal Psychological Science, also suggest that playing games is more appealing to kids who are already interested in technology, than to those who are less technologically literate.
“It is important to note that our results indicate that engaging in technology-based play is a valuable and effective form of engagement for learning and that it may not be as problematic for some as it might initially appear,” the researchers wrote in their abstract.
The researchers analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health from 2004 to 2009 and analyzed the effects of games on self-reported learning.
The study also looked at the effect of gaming on behavior.
Researchers assessed gamers and their friends to see if the two groups showed any differences in their behavior.
The participants were randomly assigned to play video-game-based games or control group games that were similar in terms of their gameplay and presentation.
Participants were then given a series of questions designed to measure their ability to understand the questions and answer them effectively.
The video game group scored higher than the control group on tests of comprehension and knowledge and higher than both the gaming group and the non-gaming group on comprehension.
The research team also assessed the effects on learning.
“These findings suggest that engaging children in games that are interactive and interactive-oriented may be beneficial to learning and memory and may be more effective than other forms of engagement,” the authors wrote.
The results are consistent with previous research suggesting that kids who like playing video games are more likely to play games as adults, and that gaming may not have a negative effect on their cognitive development.
In their paper, the researchers suggest that this is because they were able to capture participants’ behavior in a way that would not have been possible in a traditional study.
“We were able not only to capture how video game play affected children’s academic performance but also to measure these cognitive outcomes,” said study author Jennifer L. Miller, associate professor of education and human development.
“Video game play may be a form of educational enrichment for many kids, and it’s also an important tool for parents, teachers, and communities to engage their children in their culture.”
The study found that playing video-games as a fun activity and not as an educational tool was not related to kids’ scores on tests that measure cognitive abilities such as executive function, a measure of thinking and problem solving.
And those who said they had played video games and studied at least one computer science class in their high school year showed no differences in performance in cognitive skills such as reasoning and problem-solving.
The studies findings also are consistent, Lillian Koehler, assistant professor of psychology at U-Mehringer College of Education, said in a news release.
“Parents and teachers need to be mindful of their children’s interests and how they engage their kids with technology, and video game use can be a useful way to engage kids in computer science, as well as other interests and interests of others,” Koehl said.
“If children are not engaged, they may not learn or engage effectively.”
Miller, who also is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, is the lead author of a study published last year in the Journal of the American Psychological Association that found that children who played video-gaming games as part of an educational program had better grades on standardized tests than those who did not play video game games.
“This research confirms what many parents and educators already know, that kids are more interested in learning when they’re playing video game than when they are reading or watching TV,” Miller said.
The authors also say that playing computer games in the home can be very effective for some kids, but that this research does not support the idea that it’s more beneficial for parents and teachers to use technology to keep kids occupied.
“Although the studies are preliminary, it seems to me that the data from this study suggests that parents can be good role models for their children,” Miller wrote in a press release.
Miller also added that video-gathering activities can be more successful when kids are actively engaged.
“I think that in general, parents should encourage their kids to participate in activities like video-gamming or computer-games play, and parents can also encourage their children to engage in other activities that can enhance the enjoyment of their lives,” she said.