Which Makes Kids Smarter: Video Games or Social Media?

New research suggests that the way teens spend their time online may carry important clues about how they will perform academically.

Which Makes Kids Smarter: Video Games or Social Media? Photo by lipik / Shutterstock.com

Finally, there’s good news for gamers, and parents of kids who love video games: New research found that teenagers who spent their free time playing online video games had high levels of academic success in math, reading and science.

Meanwhile, teens who spent their time on Facebook and other social media sites were more likely to score lower in those three core study areas.

That’s according to a new study from Alberto Posso, a business professor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. The study was recently published in the International Journal of Communication and is based on the standardized test scores and online habits of more than 12,000 Australian 15-year-olds.

Posso says students who played online games on a daily basis scored 17 points above the average score in science and 15 points above the average score in math.

In comparison, teens who used social media sites daily scored 20 points lower in math than teens who steered clear of Facebook and the like.

In a statement, Posso says:

“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.”

Although the study didn’t find a direct cause-and-effect link between teens’ online habits and academic performance, it did establish an association.

Posso says incorporating nonviolent video games into learning could be a valuable tool for teachers. He told Broadly:

“If people think gaming is a waste of time, perhaps they should look at some existing games and assess them carefully. Many could be surprised as to their challenges and, as such, see some value in them.”

The study did acknowledge that skipping school or repeating a school year has a more direct effect on teens’ academic success than whether they’re playing Minecraft or spending hours on Facebook.

What do you think of the study’s findings? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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