As the mom of a six-year-old who occasionally plays with the Wii, especially during those cold, rainy winter months, this LiveScience article on video games caught my eye.
Basically, a study has found that video games may hinder learning in young boys. Read on:
The results show that boys given a PlayStation II are slower to progress in their reading and writing skills and have more learning problems reported by their teachers than those not given a system.
The study is the first controlled trial to look at the effects of playing video games on learning in young boys. That is to say, the findings aren’t based on survey data of kids’ game habits, but instead on a specific group of children that were randomly assigned to receive a PlayStation or not, and followed up for a certain period of time.
But as I was reading the article, I thought “duh!” What kid wants to do homework as opposed to playing video games? The article addressed that, too.
Weis’ new study involved 64 boys aged 6 to 9 who didn’t currently own a video game system, but whose parents were thinking of buying one. The boys did not have previous learning or behavioral problems. The parents were told this was a study looking at child development, and they would get a video game system for participating. The scientists chose not to include girls, because they wanted to look at the effects of playing video games, and they were worried that girls might not play as much as boys would, according to Weis.
Half of the children were randomly chosen to receive the PlayStation right away, and half got it at the end of the four-month study period.
Not surprisingly, the children with the game system immediately spent more time playing video games than those in the control group, though the latter group did spend a little time playing video games, presumably at friends’ houses….
Playing video games might displace not only traditional academic activities, such as homework and reading, but ones that, while not strictly academic, could help them in school, such as discussing what they learned that day with their parents, or having parents read to them.
Luckily, the sun has started peaking out again in Berkeley after months of torrential downpour. I have been sending the kids outside to play. And guess what? Ari just hit a new milestone. He has been helping me with his little sister while I finish up a writing contract. He makes her snacks, pushes her on the swing and even helps her go to the potty. I am proud of my boy.