RICHARD ORD: Study shows too many video games mean poor school performance (and other illuminating research)

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A new study has revealed that teenagers who play lots of video games don’t do so well at school.

It’s a groundbreaking piece of work from the National Children’s Bureau Northern Ireland, but we shouldn’t be surprised.

The Bureau has a history of illuminating studies. Last year its research team, after more than 18 months of exhaustive interviews and the collation of more than a thousand eye-witness accounts, revealed that the Pope is a Catholic.

The researchers’ next study is on the bowel movements of bears and their proximity to areas of dense foliage. I wonder what that one will conclude?

The Bureau’s gaming study, released this week, involved the study of 600 14 to 16-year-olds and found that 41% of children who used portable gaming devices at least twice a day achieved at least five good GCSE, compared to 77% who used them less than once a week.

Strangely, the researchers said they could ‘not establish why this might be the case’.

I’m no scientist, but maybe the kids who are playing video games all day long aren’t studying as much as they should?

As the father of two children, boys aged 11 and 14, I know only too well of the dangers of allowing your children to play video games all the time. Yes, there’s a real danger you’ll be spooked by scaremongering studies pushed out by media outlets.

If a pursuit makes people happy, it’s the news media’s job to poke it with a stick and reveal a nasty side, whether it’s there are not. It’s the second thing we’re taught at journalism school. The first is where the bar is, but you knew that.

Every new craze is followed by a study detailing (with as little detail as possible) the potential dangers.

When Victorian children took to the streets with their hoops and sticks, the National Children’s Bureau of the day would have churned out surveys on the risk of knee injury and falling education standards by hoop and stick users (or Hoop Maniacs, as we’d dub them today). The media would have lapped it up and parents the length and breadth of Britain would have despaired at this wasted youth and their hoop obsession.

The irony being that these days, we’d love it if our children were running round the streets with hoops and sticks, rather than playing video games.

Poor GCSE achievements due to intensive video game-playing is, of course, a concern.

Our eldest, Bradley, 14, pointed out a story in the papers this week about a young man who had played the game Minecraft almost every day of his adolescent life and posted his games on YouTube.

On his YouTube channel, 23-year-old Jordan Maron referred to himself as CaptainSparklez.

“There you have it,” I said. “Playing Minecraft had clearly affected his education, to the extent that he couldn’t spell the word Sparkles!”

Our Bradley pointed out that CaptainSparklez’ You Tube channel had more than 1.9billion views and that Jordan had just bought a $4.5million mansion in the Hollywood Hills.

I told our Bradley to forget all about his Maths homework and get back on his PlayStation.

That’s the trouble with kids today, they just don’t play enough video games.