Children who regularly use online social networks perform less well in school than pupils who rarely use such sites, research has shown.
The study, by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia, found that students who often use chat sites or Facebook were more likely to fall behind in maths, reading, and science. Yet pupils who play online video games perform better in school.
Because gaming requires the player to solve a series of puzzles before moving to the next level, students are thought to be able to “apply and sharpen” skills learned in school, the report’s author, associate professor, Alberto Posso, said.
Prof Posso, from RMIT’s School of Economics, Finance, and Marketing, said: “Students who play online games almost every day score 15 points above the average in maths, and 17 points above the average in science.
“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. Teachers should consider incorporating popular video games into teaching, so long as they’re not violent ones.”
Prof Posso analysed data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which measured 12,000 Australian 15-year-olds’ reading, maths, and science skills and collected data on their online activities. The findings, published in the International Journal of Communication, suggest that schools should encourage children to use the internet for homework, Prof Posso said.
“Students who are regularly on social media are, of course, losing time that could be spent on study — but it may also indicate that they are struggling with maths, reading, and science and are going online to socialise, instead,” he said.
“Teachers might want to look at blending the use of Facebook into their classes, as a way of helping those students engage.”
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