Video game players like to pride ourselves on our fabulous reflexes and our ability to hold our bladders. But now there’s something else that gamers can take pride in: our brains.
According to a recent publication in The International Journal of Communication,”Internet Usage and Educational Outcomes Among 15-Year-Old Australian Students,” written by Alberto Possi of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia, the students in this study—all 12,000 of them—who played online video games scored better on tests than those who did not.
Using a point system where 500 is average, with a standard deviation of 100, gamers scored 15 points above average in math and reading and 17 points above average in science.
So why would that be? Are more intelligent people attracted to video games? Are parents of gamers telling them, “You can only play games if your grades are good?” Are we just more awesome than the average non-gamer?
Although Possi was unable to make the correlation “gaming = smarts,” he did offer, “[G]ameplay appears to equip students to apply and sharpen knowledge learned in school by requiring them to solve a series of puzzles before moving to the next game level.” In other words, gaming may not make us smarter, per se, but it can give us problem-solving skills that equate to better grades.
That’s not all Possi uncovered in his study. It seems that students who used social media, such as Facebook, scored lower in math, reading, and science (20 points lower in math; 16 points lower in reading; and 19 points lower in science). All things being equal, Facebook may not actually make us dumber, but words could bad make nonsense drool.
Possi recommends that parents steer their children away from violent games, as there is evidence to suggest it may lead to violent behavior later. However, he also writes, “[B]ased on the results discussed in this study, the potential for online games to positively impact adolescents’ math, reading, and science skills seems worthy of further research.”
I’ll be conducting my own research, with my adult brain and my Steam library.
What do you think of this study? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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