Research conflicted over educational benefits of video games

The National Children’s Bureau (NCB) in Northern Ireland released a study which suggests students who play video games achieve significantly worse grades at GCSE level.

The research questioned 1,000 teenagers across 13 schools in Northern Ireland and found that 41 per cent of pupils who used portable games players ‘a couple of times a day’ achieved five good grades at GCSE, as opposed to 77 per cent of pupils who rarely played.

However, Patrick Fitzpatrick, emeritus professor of mathematics at University College Cork (UCC), believes that certain types of computer games are beneficial to students.

Fitzpatrick is launching an initiative which promotes the use of the computer game Minecraft as a tool too boost student’s understanding of logic, which he claims is rarely taught in the modern curriculum.

He argues: “The overwhelming majority of school students play computer games, and these provide an avenue for the study of elementary logic in an environment that is both familiar and enjoyable.”

While the NCB does not suggest pupils should not have any access to computer games, Celine McStravick, director of the NCB in Northern Ireland, recommends that parents should limit time spent on gaming.

She said: “We need parents and carers to step in and limit excessive amounts of time spent gaming. If we support parents and schools to get this right young people will reap the benefits of using digital technology while sidestepping the pitfalls.”

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