Excessive use of video games, social media and the internet linked to poor academic performance
06/22/2021 // Virgilio Marin // Views

A new study has found that teens who play video games or surf the internet for more than an hour a day tend to perform worse at school compared to teens who use these interactive technologies in moderation.

Interactive technologies are anything that allows for the two-way flow of information, such as video games, smartphones, social media applications and the Internet. They're commonly used for entertainment but are also widely used in education. When schools shifted to remote learning last year due to lockdowns, they leaned into interactive technology to make the shift possible.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has been essential to facilitating remote learning," said Vivien Anthony, an assistant professor of social work at Rutgers University and the lead researcher of the study.

But there is also a growing concern that the excessive use of technology negatively impacts children's school performance, Anthony added. For example, children could develop undesirable study habits and spend less time studying, she said.

How excessive use of video games, the Internet affects student performance

For their study, Anthony and her colleagues tracked nearly 10,000 Chinese middle school students with an average of 13 and a half years of age. They're goal was to investigate the relationship between the childrens' recreational use of interactive technology and their school performance and engagement.

The researchers found that nearly 40 percent of the students used interactive technology recreationally on school days and 62 percent on weekends. Those who used the internet, social media or video games for at least four hours a day were four times as likely to skip school as those who used these sparingly. They also scored lower in tests and had lower educational aspirations.


Boys, in particular, used interactive technology more often than girls and performed worse at school and were less focused on their studies. (Related: DISTRACTED: Phone use blamed for lower academic performance as students struggle to concentrate.)

Meanwhile, students who used interactive technology for less than an hour a day on weekends experienced less boredom at school. The researchers attributed this to the highly social nature of many interactive technologies. Social media, video games and video streaming, for instance, foster peer bonding and relationship building.

Because of their findings, the researchers recommended setting time limits on gadget use and advised parents and teachers to help children develop self-control and effective time management skills.

"In a learning environment that integrates the internet, it is easy for children to move across educational and entertainment platforms during learning without alerting teachers or adults to alternate activities," Anthony said.

A paper on the study is due to appear in the September issue of the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Heavy use of computers, TV affects young children's school performance

According to a study published last year in the journal PLOS ONE, spending long hours in front of the television or a computer could negatively impact primary school children's ability to read and work with numbers.

Australian researchers arrived at this finding after measuring the academic performance of more than 1,200 eight- and nine-year-olds at the start of the study and after two years. They asked parents to record their children's use of electronics like television, computers and video games.

The researchers found that watching more than two hours of television a day was associated with lower reading performance two years later compared to peers. The difference was equivalent to losing four months of learning. Meanwhile, using a computer for more than an hour a day was linked to lower numeracy performance compared to peers. This was also equivalent to losing four months of learning.

These findings led the researchers to conclude that heavy television and computer use is associated with poor reading and numeracy skills. Because of this link, the researchers recommended developing media plans that could reduce children's screen time.

Learn more about other factors that affect children's academic performance at BrainFunction.news.

Sources include:




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