Playing computer games is affecting children's maths and reading skills according to a new study.
Research carried out on 8,000 primary pupils shows those who spend more time in front of a screen do not score as highly in national tests.
The study among second and sixth class pupils also showed that too much time playing with friends (normal, face-to-face play and, ie not computer play) also negatively affected scores in reading and maths.
In second class, pupils who played with friends most days had lower scores than those who played with friends on only some days.
In sixth class, pupils who played for more than two hours a day with friends scored significantly lower than those who only played for between one and two hours a day.
"For all of these factors, any one of them done too much negatively affected scores," said Educational Research Centre spokeswoman Lauren Kavanagh.
- 31% of 2nd-class pupils play computer games most days and score significantly lower at reading. They tested far lower in maths than even those who do so some days.
- Pupils who go online occasionally are significantly better at reading and maths than those who use the internet every day. However, those who never go online at home did not score much higher than the most regular internet users.
- The average reading score for sixth-class pupils who hardly ever read stories or novels was 239. It was 280 for those who do so every or most days.
- The 47% of second-class pupils with a TV in their bedrooms got scores in maths and reading that were, on average, at least 30 below those who did not.
- Nearly half of children read books for fun most days and are significantly better at reading than others.
- The 10% of children who never play sports scored far lower at maths than the 52% who played most days.
- Children finding maths homework hard may be more likely to seek online help or use a calculator.