Internet use and video games linked to lower grades

internet use

Middle-school aged children who use internet, social media or video games recreationally for more than an hour each day during the school week have lower grades and test scores, according to a study from the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

The findings appear in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Researchers say the findings provide children and parents a moderate threshold for utilizing entertainment-related technologies — no more than one hour daily on school days and four hours a day on weekends.

“Interactive technology is widely used to promote children’s educational access and achievement,” said lead author Vivien (Wen Li) Anthony, an assistant professor at the School of Social Work and research associate at the Rutgers Center for Gambling Studies. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has been essential to facilitating remote learning. At the same time, there is a growing concern that excessive technology use, particularly for entertainment, may adversely affect children’s educational development by facilitating undesirable study habits and detracting from time spent on learning activities.”

The researchers, which include Professor Lia Nower of the Rutgers Center for Gambling Studies and a researcher in Renmin University of China, examined the China Education Panel Survey information, a nationwide survey of educational needs and outcomes of children in China. Approximately 10,000 first-year middle school students were surveyed and followed. Their average age was 13.5 years.

The results showed that children who use internet, social media or video games for amusement four or more hours each day were four times more likely to skip school than people who did not. Boys used interactive technologies for entertainment significantly more than girls. Boys also performed worse and showed lower school participation levels than girls.

“Such findings are critical, particularly in light of the recent movement toward online learning in countries throughout the world,” said Anthony. “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 children in the study who used technology in moderation (i.e. less than 1 hour internet use every day on weekends) experienced less boredom at school, potentially because of the positive effects of involvement in social networking, video games and video streaming for example peer bonding and connection building. Using interactive technology for amusement in moderation advanced children’s cognitive growth.

The findings suggest that parents put time limits on their children’s interactive technologies use, which parents and teachers should help kids to develop effective time management and self-regulation abilities to lower their dependence on technology.

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