A recent study by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) has discovered a link between excessive playing of video games and students’ performance in their GCSE exams. The research, which was carried out on teenagers aged between 14 and 16 in Northern Ireland, found that 41% of students who played video games excessively (on average twice a day) achieve fewer satisfactory GCSE grades than those who only play occasionally or rarely.
This study is the first long-term analysis of how excessive use of computers for recreational purposes can affect children’s performance at school. Although 4 in 10 young people will use a computer for their studies, many will use them for playing games or communicating on social media. However, the NCB’s study has not yet found a connection between overuse of social networks and exam results.
Excessive playing of video games has also been linked to children staying up late at night, causing tiredness and inability to concentrate on their studies the next day.
Mark Starkey, who runs the Heart of Gaming, a venue for social gaming in northwest London, puts this down to newer games’ intricacy and lengthy storylines, compared to older games: “It’s going to hold their attention for longer. They always want to progress through the storyline – here’s a cliff-hanger, I’ve got to see what happens next. Older games challenge your hand-eye coordination, speed and reactions rather than perhaps your imagination.”
Though there has been much talk about the negative consequences of overusing computers, there can be some boons. Scientists say that playing video games can actually help young people to develop and improve their computing skills, which are now required by many modern employers, as long as it is not excessive.
A study by Radboud University in the Netherlands has claimed that video games can actually help children improve their cognitive thinking, mental health and overall wellbeing. They ask the media to stop over-concentrating on the negative stories about video games and focus on the positives that they can bring.
What I think
I regularly play video games and have struggled with addiction in the past due to over-playing. On some evenings, I play until bedtime, not even stopping when I have to eat dinner. This causes me to have difficulty falling asleep due to scenes and sounds from the game repeatedly playing in my head.
However, despite playing video games frequently, I’ve managed to perform well in my studies, achieving nine A grades in my GCSEs, passing college with two merits and now in the third year of my university degree. I usually know when I should work and when I can play games, which helps me to concentrate on my studies.
Some of the games I play are puzzle games, which help me hone my coordination and keep my brain busy, so some good does come out of my gaming habits. In my opinion, if used correctly, computer games can enrich our education and help us to achieve the grades we need for those elusive jobs.
Surfing the Sea about herself and her artwork. She loves talking about Pictou, New Glasgow and Stellarton… and pigeons.