Science says online gaming is good for Australian teenagers

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Teenagers who play online video games generally get better school results, according to the latest research.

But those who spend time chatting on Facebook and other social media every day are more likely to fall behind in maths, reading and science.

Internet usage among teenagers is massive, particularly in Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 97% of children aged 15 to 17 years of age reported to be frequently going online in 2012-13.

Alberto Posso, from RMIT’s School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, investigated the results of testing by the globally recognised Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).

More than 12,000 Australian 15-year-olds were tested in maths, reading and science, as well as collecting data on their online lives.

“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 Associate Professor Posso.

“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.

“Teachers should consider incorporating popular video games into teaching — so long as they’re not violent ones.”

However, teenagers who use Facebook or chat every day score 20 points worse in maths than students who didn’t use social media.

“Students who are regularly on social media are, of course, losing time that could be spent on study — but it may also indicate that they are struggling with maths, reading and science and are going online to socialise instead,” he says.

“Teachers might want to look at blending the use of Facebook into their classes as a way of helping those students engage.”

The research, Internet usage and educational outcomes among 15-year-old Australian students, is published in the International Journal of Communication

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