Video games are a blast. Online games can be even more fun because of the social aspect surrounding them. You get to play with your friends and even meet new friends online. But video games aren’t just fun – research has shown there to be a correlation between online gamers and better school performance!
Note that this finding is a correlation, not a causation. This means playing video games won’t guarantee you perform well in school, it only increases your chances – as long as you don’t let them overtake your school work; all things in moderation!
A study was done in Australia involving over 12,000 high school students. They found that when it came to internet usage, students who regularly played online video games scored higher in math, reading, and science tests than students who didn’t.
“Students who play online games almost every day score 15 points above the average in maths and 17 points above the average in science,” says economist Alberto Posso from RMIT University in Melbourne. “When you play online games you’re solving puzzles to move to the next level and that involves using some of the general knowledge and skills in maths, reading, and science that you’ve been taught during the day.”
The study used Australian data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which tested students from more than 700 schools in 2012 and collected information on their personal interests and online activities. Posso suggests that students who regularly spend time playing online games are developing analytical and problem-solving skills that can also help them in their schoolwork.
“Sometimes players have to understand some of the principles of chemistry even, so they really have to understand science,” Posso told Bridget Brennan at the ABC. “Some psychologists have argued that massive online player games can be beneficial to cognitive development.”
As I said in the beginning, the study hasn’t proven causation – and Posso isn’t ready to say that gaming is what’s leading to better grades. It’s merely an association.
Why do gamers seem to get higher grades?
Posso isn’t entirely sure why they are correlated with higher grades yet. He thinks that one possibility could be some students find it easier to get their study and homework done faster. However, there are a number of potential factors, including skills associated with gaming, how students choose to fill their spare time, and family environments. Posso says it’s a promising area for future studies to investigate – and other researchers agree.
“It’s interesting that this study showed a positive correlation between online gaming and academic performance, but we really need better ways of understanding how and why people play video games before we’re able to tease apart what that correlation actually means, if anything,” biological psychologist Peter Etchells from Bath Spa University in the UK, who wasn’t involved with the research, told Samuel Gibbs at The Guardian. “A number of researchers have been trying to highlight this issue for a while,” he added, “but we really need more detailed research and nuanced data to answer these sorts of questions more confidently.”
Researchers may not be able to explain this association yet, but there is more good news for the online gamers out there. Other recent research suggests gaming is good for your learning abilities, powers of memory, motor skills – and can even potentially be used for recovering from brain injuries.
To all the online gamers out there – don’t let people tell you games are rotting your brain! Research shows games seem to do more good than harm, despite popular opinion. Keep on gaming!
If you’re interested in reading more about it, check out the findings reported in the International Journal of Communication.