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Study Finds That Video Games Hinder Learning In Young Boys

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the fun-activities-distract-from-studies,-film-at-11 dept.

Education 278

dcollins writes "Researchers at Denison University in Ohio have shown that giving PlayStations to young boys leads to slower progress in reading and writing skills. Quoting: 'The study is the first controlled trial to look at the effects of playing video games on learning in young boys. That is to say, the findings aren't based on survey data of kids' game habits, but instead on a specific group of children that were randomly assigned to receive a PlayStation or not ... Those with PlayStations also spent less time engaged in educational activities after school and showed less advancement in their reading and writing skills over time than the control group, according to tests taken by the kids. While the game-system owners didn't show significant behavioral problems, their teachers did report delays in learning academic skills, including writing and spelling.'"

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278 comments

It's true (5, Funny)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505526)

Thanks to Legend of Zelda my basic math sucked for years. I did however beat Ganon with the wooden sword.

Re:It's true (-1, Offtopic)

b4k3d b34nz (900066) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505548)

That's nothing. I beat Ganon with the wooden sword on the CD-i version.

Re:It's true (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505562)

That's nothing. I shoved the cartridge up your momma's vagina and ran a coax cable from her ass to the T.V. before I beat gannon using her nipples as the "A" and "B" buttons.

Technological Man... (-1, Flamebait)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505534)

... is DOOMED. Radical Islam will take over the world!

Maybe the Amish can save us. Or we should be very happy that women don't play as many video games.

Duh? (3, Informative)

TOGSolid (1412915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505540)

Did they really need to do a study to prove something we already knew? At least they fully admitted that it was just a matter of parents making sure that their child's time spent with video games is limited. Of course, that won't stop parents from blaming video games anyway.

Spending time in fantasies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505550)

Games reduce the intelligence of men, too. For example, Slashdot editors have not learned to be editors.

Correlation != causation (0)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505556)

We shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater here. There could be a perfectly logical reason why kids who play video games are dumber than those who don't.

As these gamers mature into adulthood, I think that any correlation between gaming and real-world performance will be enhanced due to the smarter kids eventually growing out of it.

Re:Correlation != causation (4, Insightful)

gomiam (587421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505626)

And they are dumber because...?

The study finds a correlation between videogame play time and lack of learning. Which is quite understandable: if I study less than I need, I will probably learn less. No need to be dumber.

Re:Correlation != causation (0, Troll)

naplam33 (1751266) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505880)

It's not about studying, it's about the things you do when you don't. Kids that age don't need to spend much time studying at home anyway. Any activity can't be dumber than playing the typical PlayStation first-person shooter, that's the problem when you spend too much doing it. A graphical adventure kind of game would have a completely different effect IMHO.

Re:Correlation != causation (1)

quickgold192 (1014925) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506648)

Who said "dumber"? The summary (i know what you're thinking, and no, i didn't) said that video games hinder learning. It's not a far stretch to suppose that less studying and more distractions will result in slower learning.

Re:Correlation != causation (4, Informative)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505716)

So, the damn summary specifically says that this is not a correlation study.

I'm going to assume you chose to play the PS3 instead of reading it...

Re:Correlation != causation (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505732)

Are you capable of reading the article summary? Not even the actual story. The summary. That's all it would take.

Re:Correlation != causation (4, Insightful)

jandersen (462034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506442)

I suspect a major part of the reason is simply that the more you play computer games, the less time, motivation and energy you have for learning things that are perceived as boring. Unfortunately this can lead to a vicious circle - when you have difficult learning something, you tend to push aways as "boring", which will make it even harder to learn.

What games? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505588)

I'd be interested in seeing what games were used in the study. I played a lot as a kid, but mostly the RPG's and I'm pretty sure it helped my reading in the long run. My school had me pegged as reading at a college level by grade 5, and I'm pretty sure I didn't pick that up at school.

They don't even have to be educational games if the mechanics are complex enough you end up teaching yourself new basic skills simply to master the game.

Re:What games? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505724)

I figure kids who play games which involve more reading, problem solving and strategizing would fare better than kids who play brainless shooters or platformers, but moderation is key as well.

Re:What games? (4, Funny)

tancque (925227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505756)

I Agree. Most games I played were English, which improved my English grade considerably (I'm Dutch). My vocabulary was a bit unusual, though. Not many kids at 12 used words like grue, "lantern of everburn" or "twisty passages all alike"

Re:What games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505830)

Same here. Some of the first games that really required me to learn some more vocabulary were Ultima 6 and 7. The ancient english they used in those games doesn't sound too strange when german is your native language, but my english teachers were probably a bit irritated.

Re:What games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505850)

This.

Video games made me learn English. After all, when I was still young, there were no German games.

I would however agree that modern games hinder reading and writing skills. Most newly released games are translated from English to German. For some reason the localisation companies everybody uses suck hard. Personally, I'll never touch a German language game again; unless it's natively German.

On the other hand, my parents sent me to pre-school English classes that were actually fun. Plus we only had basic public TV until I was 12 or so. Gave me a lot of time to read.

Hey guess what? It's all about balance and the right games. I'd agree though that mindless non-story action games in your native language are as bad as everyday TV dribble.

What about the parents? (2, Insightful)

ItsColdOverHere (928704) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505592)

I wonder if the researchers thought to look for correlations between parents who were willing to let their children get away with not doing their homework before doing leisure activities, computer game related or not?

Re:What about the parents? (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505758)

Underneath the article headline, you will find something called a "summary." In this fascinating and useful bit of information, you will find the following:

"That is to say, the findings aren't based on survey data of kids' game habits, but instead on a specific group of children that were randomly assigned to receive a PlayStation or not."

Unless you have some specific critique of the study methodology -- specifically, some indication of bias in the assignment of children to treatment vs. control groups -- what's your point?

Re:What about the parents? (1)

rj78 (1636139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506514)

What would still be interesting to see, is what the instructions were, when they were giving out the Playstations:

1. Here's a Playstation, we're doing a study on your kid. In the name of research, please keep your interference with how your kid uses it to a minimum, so we can study them more naturally.
2. Here's a Playstation, please make sure that you oversee the use of it as you would normally do with all technologies.
3. Here's a Playstation, please let your kid play with it 2 hours per day.

Re:What about the parents? (5, Informative)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505782)

Yes, they did. From what I understand, they had two random samples of children: One group that was given a Playstation, and another that didn't. The first group showed lower academic achievement then the second group, by a large enough margin such that it was very likely not chance.

The experiment design side-steps the correlation=/causation issue and directly measures causality. To answer your question specifically, there surely were parents of your that in both samples...

What about the kids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506348)

I'd venture to say they didn't specify what type of video games in their questioning of these kids.

Anyone who wants to bash the gaming industry as unproductive can just interview kids who play a certain subset of mindless action games far more than they should, with a pitiful sample size, and claim it's the games that make them dumb instead of the hours of time poorly spent and lack of parental guidance.

Marilyn Manson's music makes you kill people right? If you played grand theft auto you're going to steal cars and slap hookers, right?

There are plenty of more educational games and programs that can actually increase people's learning and comprehension rather than write over it with combo chains and the locations of the best weapons. Educational software, math building, reading building, typing tutors, instructional drawing programs, flight simulators, many puzzle games, math quiz games like Sudoku...these all HELP the user to develop cognitive or applied real-world skills.

It's far too generalized to say stupid kids are that way "Because of video games". That's like saying our country is in the shithole "because of the government".

What games did they play? (5, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505602)

Because I doubt playing text heavy RPG or adventure games has a negative influence on reading.
Saying video games are bad for reading is like saying eating food makes you fat.

Re:What games did they play? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505662)

Modern games are not text heavy anymore. You're thinking of the 80ies or 90ies...

Re:What games did they play? (1)

naplam33 (1751266) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505924)

Indeed. There's been a huge regression in that aspect, now all you got are first-person shooters and "casual" style games, which are really really dumb, even a monkey could play satisfactorily. Where are the game designers of the 80s and 90s? I wonder what the current game designers do... it takes the mind of a 3-year old to design a current game (and dozens of 3D artists... bah). Playing games now is purely a waste of time.

Re:What games did they play? (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505682)

Aight, I put on my robe and wizard hat

Re:What games did they play? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506176)

In other words, playing FPS games keeps you behind in reading skills, playing RPGs lead to weird social behaviour. You can't win. Stop playing.

Re:What games did they play? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506234)

They should all ditch the video games and read Horatio Alger.

Re:What games did they play? (2, Insightful)

james.mcarthur (154849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505726)

My nephew learnt to read from an early age by playing video games - we all got sick of sitting there with him reading out the same screens over and over and over again that in the end we told him he had to learn to read in order to play his games.

Re:What games did they play? (2, Interesting)

suisui (1134031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505762)

Same for me. My native tongue isn't English, but I had to start learning it at the age of six because no one translated manuals/dialogue fast enough. It's strange what a small bit of motivation can achieve.

Re:What games did they play? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506192)

Same here. My English sucked. Badly. I was close to failing every year.

Then text adventures became popular. 'nuff said.

Re:What games did they play? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506476)

Same here. My English sucked. Badly. I was close to failing every year.

Then text adventures became popular. 'nuff said.

'nuff isn't a word. Your English still sucks.

Re:What games did they play? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506324)

How old was he? I spent very, very little time in front of a TV or computer, instead my parents interacted with me. Often this included reading books.

I first use the computer when I was 2 (1988), starting with a painting programme [drawmouse.com]. When I was about 5 my dad taught me to use AutoSketch (the 2D-only version of AutoCAD). That was also when he bought the first games -- but they were all from an educational catalogue. There were non-educational games from age 7-ish, but I wasn't generally allowed to spend more than an hour on the computer.

Re:What games did they play? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505818)

Because I doubt playing text heavy RPG or adventure games has a negative influence on reading.

You just really confused everyone under the age of 25.

Re:What games did they play? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506260)

I learned english (my mother language has 0% connection) playing video games... not too much, but a good start.
But indeed, these lessons were not with tetris ou sonic. Most were with text heavy games.

Re:What games did they play? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506564)

Because I doubt playing text heavy RPG or adventure games has a negative influence on reading.
Saying video games are bad for reading is like saying eating food makes you fat.

Well, except for the little problem of Johnnie playing the game instead of reading....

And you got modded +5 for that. Wow, talk about the triumph of wishful thinking from a bunch of video-game-playing geeks...

this study is completely biased (4, Insightful)

crazybit (918023) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505614)

If they want to see the REAL consequences, they should get a group of 1000 straight A students and see how many of them had video games for the last four years. I am sure the results will be the other day. I am sure many people HERE have been great students and did have a NES or some other console during their school years.

As the article says, these consoles where given to kids that where anxious to have them (they did't have it before but played them at their friends houses). Get a man that haven't had sex in 6 years and give him a girlfriend and analize what happens. Anyone has considered that those consequences might have happened because (1) those kids didn't have a console BEFORE (the novelty factor) and (2) those kids wanted to get the most out of the console because of subconscious fear that it might be taken away from them later.

Re:this study is completely biased (5, Funny)

linzeal (197905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505644)

" Get a man that haven't had sex in 6 years and give him a girlfriend and analize what happens "

Kinky, I'm pretty sure you can find many volunteers in the Slashdot population who would like to participate in this study of yours.

Re:this study is completely biased (0, Offtopic)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505676)

Get a man that haven't had sex in 6 years and give him a girlfriend and analize what happens.

The word you were looking for is analyze (US spelling of analyse). Analize has a very different meaning, but all the more on-topic, I'd say.

This just in ! (5, Insightful)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505624)

- I shall now replace Video Games with Not Being Locked in a Library.

The study is the first controlled trial to look at the effects of not being locked in a library on learning in young boys.
That is to say, the findings aren't based on survey data of kids' library avoidance habits,
but instead on a specific group of children that were randomly assigned to be locked in a library or not ...
Children not confined to a library showed less advancement in their reading and writing skills over time than the control group.

- Clearly, All children should be locked in libraries immediately !

Re:This just in ! (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505800)

Sarcasm aside, if you can show the effectiveness of "locking kids in a library", I'd be for it. From a liberty perspective, locking kids in libraries and restricting their access to video games is hardly tyrannical compared to the whole "Forcing them to sit still for 8 hours a day, to the point where they must ask permission to use the bathroom" thing. So adding a little bit here and there to improve outcomes doesn't bother me.

Re:This just in ! (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506022)

Umm, I guess it depends on the timescales involved, but generally it is more tyrannical than "Forcing them to sit still for 8 hours a day, to the point where they must ask permission to use the bathroom". Unless the library has a bathroom in it. Which I suppose it might, if you mean a separate building rather than an attached section of a school or something. Is it common to send young kids to non-school libraries for schoolwork?

Also, do American schools actually last even close to 8 hours? At ages 6-9, my elementary school in Ontario went from 9:00-3:30 (actually slightly earlier than 3:30 or later than 9:00, but the exact times changed year to year), with an hour for lunch -- 20 minutes to eat inside and 40 minutes of middle recess -- and two 15 minute short recesses, one at 10:30 and one at 2:15. That's 6 hours 30 minutes at school, of which 5 non-consecutive hours were actually sitting and learning (except for gym almost every day, which is 40 minutes more out of it).

Re:This just in ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505806)

You can do that if you want to, but given that few children get locked in libraries and millions play video games, your "findings" are magnitudes less useful.

Re:This just in ! (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506608)

I don't know if this counts as being "locked in the library", but my kids are 14 and 11 years old, and I still read to them every night. I started reading to them while they were in the womb -- not as an experiment, but because my wife and I read to each other. By the time they were in kindergarten, most of their favorite books were things like Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels or P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves stories. When my daughter's fourth grade class was assigned the task of picking a favorite poem to read, she already had a choice: Coleridge's *Rime of the Ancient Mariner* (although they didn't let her read the whole thing).

<litotes_alert>So, not surprisingly, my kids do OK in reading and language arts.</litotes_alert>

Now here's the point: my 11 year old son is a video game fanatic. He's the gaming consultant of his set. We often get calls on the weekend asking for a play date because one of his friends is stuck on some new game. I don't know how that happened, since neither of his parents are into gaming.

We aren't parents who put a great deal of credence in parenting theories and fads. For example, we don't push sex roles one way or the other. We would have happily let him play with the pink plastic toy kitchen Grandma bought his sister. He wasn't that interested, and we didn't fret about that, either. We're not fussed over whether he'll grow up manly enough, or *too* manly. We don't care, so long as he grows up happy. But from the time he could sit up in a stroller, he was crazy about trucks. Every time we passed a truck, he had to touch it. It was that way with video games.

One of the few parenting ideologies we had was anti-video game. We weren't going to have one in the house. But from the time that he knew video games existed, it was just like with the trucks. He was nuts about games. Most of his art work was about video games. When he was old enough to write, everything he wrote involved games. He asked us for books on gaming strategies and cheats and he studied them until he knew games he'd never even seen in minute detail.

So we said to ourselves, "What the hell. He's spending all this time obsessing about games, he might as well get to play them." We bought him a console and a portable. It's slightly terrifying the way he systematically takes apart each new game. It's a bit of a time waster, but it usually doesn't take him very long and then he has time for other things.

And guess what? He's doing fine in school. And he likes reading almost as much and demands to be read to every night.

It boils down to our one philosophy of parenting, which is that we can't insulate our kids from bad influences completely. What's more important is to expose kids to *good* influences. Armed with the knowledge and abilities gained from good influences, many influences that might be bad become useful experiences as well. Video games sharpen my son's problem solving skills, because he has *other* things in his life like reading and sports that complement them. If he didn't have those things, I might be worried about the impact of gaming on his development, but as large as they loom in his life, they're only part of it, along with friends, family and reading.

Can I mod this entire story down? (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505632)

What is this Fox news? Come on people!

Re:Can I mod this entire story down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505796)

haha haha haha hahah aha haha haha haha haha hahah aha haha

A FOX News' joke about a story not from FOX News!!!

haha haha haha hahah aha haha haha haha haha hahah aha haha

You should make one of these jokes in all the stories that you think are stupid. They are just gold!

And in other news!! (1)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505678)

... kids who spend less time reading and writing by doing [insert activity here] has less developed learning skills, stay tuned for more!

Moderation is the key. (5, Insightful)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505680)

I let my kids (3.5 and 6) play on our Wii. But it's supervised, and only a few hours a week. Usually I'm taking part too. (New Super Mario Bros is more fun when you can go into the bubble and daddy can clear the hard part of the level. ;)

I'd argue in our family gaming is a net positive activity. The kids learn motor skills, cooperation, and given that I emphasize social games, get used to do gaming together as a group.

Any fool can tell that dumping a Playstation on a kid and not moderating the activity will likely be harmful. Any activity is bad for you if you do too much of it...

It it really so hard people?

What about reading and writing English? (1)

HertzaHaeon (1164143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505686)

Games (along with books, comics and films) taught me most of the English I know today. I would expect this effect to be significant in general, especially for kids today. But of course, for kids who already speak English, the effect is likely different.

Anyway, I'm sure you could find this effect for any two activities for kids. Games slow down studies, studies slow down athletic achievement, athletic achievement slows down something else. And as someone already pointed out, sex could potentially slow everything else down.

Re:What about reading and writing English? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505950)

Same here.

I learned more English from games, and the communities that surrounds them (forums, chats), than I did in school. Well not grammar or rules of course. But to be capable of formulating myself somewhat clearly. It has helped me tremendously.

But it did, and still do, take a lot of my time. However, it seems that if I do not play, I just waste time doing something else. Wash the dishes, surf, vacuum the floor, prepares a complex dish of food, or read fiction. I simply cannot just use all the free time to do school related work. It is a chore that often makes other chores fun in comparison.

Despite this, I am pursuing my Masters in computer science. And I'm not alone. As good as no one, uses all their time doing school stuff. They'll do different activities in and between homework and reading sessions, be it gaming, television, literature or playing with their kids. I think that even if all of these non-school activities be removed or banned, we'd still find something to do that is not school related. We need to take mental breaks, else we'll just die with stress. (Something I feel like doing once in a while, when I got several assignments and projects hanging over my head at the same time and little to no room for other activities)

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505690)

They breed 'em dumb in Ohio.

Wonder what sort of metrics the study would generate if it was done in Japan, or India, or anywhere OTHER then Ohio.

Well I'd need to see the study (5, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505700)

However, initially I'm going to call "bullshit". This is partially because my experience with psychology studies (I did psychology in university) leads me to believe that very few research psychologists have a good handle on technology. Every video game related study I saw had rather deep flaws that showed a lack of understanding of videogames.

In this case, based on the article, I see two potential major flaws:

1) The study was fairly short term. That doesn't tell you anything. All kinds of changes can happen in the short term with a child, and are not meaningful in the long run. You need to evaluate development over a period of years, not over four months. If you look in to the literature on child development you find that many things that taken in a small context that look worrying don't matter in the long run. A child will start talking or reading 6-12 months later than peers, and yet have normal language skills at graduation, for example.

2) It only dealt with kids who got a new toy, not with ones who had it. Even in adults, when we get something new we are more enamored with it and want to spend more time using it. That dies down after a little while. There is no reason to believe that videogames are any different. As such if you believe they are, you need to test that. There needs to be controls with kids that have had videogame systems for long periods of time.

As such I don't think the results of the study are valid. I think there are confounding factors that could falsify their theory. They need to run additional tests with those controlled before I'm willing to accept it, and I imagine such additional tests would falsify the theory.

What needs to be looked at is the difference between kinds with and without videogames over a long period of time. Ideally from like elementary school up to graduation. At this point, the ship may have already sailed on that as videogames are a very popular form of entertainment in our society.

Ultimately I don't think it is the case that videogames are causally related to school performance at all. Goofing off is, but then people goof off in all sorts of ways. I admit I am biased in that when I grew up videogames were not all that popular. They were more limited to the nerdy types, like me. However my observation was that the videogamers tended to be the higher performers. The kids who goofed off by playing videogames when allowed to seemed to do better in school than the kids who goofed off by watching TV or playing sports when allowed to.

I don't think the videogames caused that, but it does make me doubt that videogames are special in any way at hindering academic performance as opposed to other kinds of entertainment.

Re:Well I'd need to see the study (3, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505810)

As such I don't think the results of the study are valid. I think there are confounding factors that could falsify their theory.

Their theory is that kids who get a game console will spend more time playing it than those who don't. Your arguments are against the interpretation of the results, not their validity.

Ultimately I don't think it is the case that videogames are causally related to school performance at all. Goofing off is, but then people goof off in all sorts of ways.

The way I read it, the study asks a simple question: does merely giving someone a game console cause them to goof off more? The answer seems an obvious "yes" in the short term, and as you mentioned, this particular study doesn't help with the long term implications.

There's nothing really shocking or prejudicial here. If you took a community where television isn't common and gave a random sampling of kids a TV, they would likely spend more time watching TV - I don't really see why this seems so outlandish to a lot of people.

I do agree that doing the study over 4 months isn't very meaningful, though.

They were more limited to the nerdy types, like me. However my observation was that the videogamers tended to be the higher performers. The kids who goofed off by playing videogames when allowed to seemed to do better in school than the kids who goofed off by watching TV or playing sports when allowed to.

Well, yeah, nerds were the ones playing video games and nerds do well in school - that is a classic confounding factor.

The question here isn't whether video games are somehow a "bad" way of goofing off, it's whether owning a console leads to more goofing off. And, come one, are we really going to argue that it doesn't?

Re:Well I'd need to see the study (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505898)

Sure. But the argument is still a good one. Kids who get a shiny new fun toy which doesn't directly contribute a lot to academic learning, will generally spend some time with the toy, and might as a result of that learn less than they otherwise would.

The study is spesifically about playstations. But might it be that the same thing would have happened with most -other- forms of shiny-new-fun-toy too ? i.e. that the results are really independent of "gaming" as such ? Would kids who got a new funky bike spend less time doing homework ? I don't know, but seems a reasonable enough hypothesis.

Re:Well I'd need to see the study (2, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506036)

But might it be that the same thing would have happened with most -other- forms of shiny-new-fun-toy too ? i.e. that the results are really independent of "gaming" as such ?

Sure, you'd likely see similar behavior with other toys, but why does that make it "independent" of gaming? It seems valid to ask whether a specific toy will lead to a noticeable drop in school performance, no?

And, off the top of my head, I can't really come up with anything that's as big a time-sink as video games. Well TV, obviously, but that's well enough entrenched that it's not a consideration for most parents.

I know we are trying to pretend that this is just demonizing video games in some prejudiced, marginalizing way, but that's a bit of a knee-jerk reaction at this point.

The simple, real-life question is "Is buying a console likely to sufficiently increase the amount of time my kids goof off that it will be reflected in their school performance?". This study is obviously very far from proving such a thing, but really, would it be all that shocking if the answer is "yes"?

Re:Well I'd need to see the study (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505812)

It also looks at very narrow measures of school performance: reading, writing, and spelling. Unless it's a very dialogue-heavy videogame, those are admittedly among the areas not likely to be improved by videogame playing. Notably, the study excludes any investigation of math/science/tech skills or interest, which might plausibly be actually increased.

Re:Well I'd need to see the study (1)

dreampod (1093343) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506026)

Very true, though reading in particular CAN be very well advanced by even moderate quantities of text within video games. When my daughter was 7, she desperately wanted to play World of Warcraft and soon discovered that doing quests was very difficult when you couldn't read the quest text (not that by chat spam you would know this). It provided her with the motivation to focus on her reading skills, because up to that point she had been frustrated by how childish and pointless all of her reading excercises and books were. Having the ability to read clearly linked with the ability to do something she wanted (play the game) was a major turning point in her reading which had been substantially behind.

Re:Well I'd need to see the study (2, Informative)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505820)

You have to remember that this study isn't suggesting that young children who play games grow up to be uninformed adults. All it's suggesting is the obvious: that playing video games can hinder learning. And it can, just like any other goofing off.

If they wanted to show the long-term effects of childhood gaming, they would design a completely different study. And, I guess, in a way, this kind of study paves the way for the more general study, since it establishes that gaming has some effect on learning.

Re:Well I'd need to see the study (1)

Ed Peepers (1051144) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505990)

Old farts perhaps (and some young clueless ones), but there is a rich history of collaboration between computer science and psychology. We're not all Luddites. As a grad student in psychology (not associated with this study) who does conduct research with adult video game players, I can certainly comment on basic methodology. I would need to see the actual journal article to make bold pronouncements regarding the specifics, but assuming they are not completely incompetent researchers ...

1) It doesn't matter that the study was "only" 4 months. Individually you're right, +/- 4 months on a developmental marker is not a big deal at all. But this was not a change occurring across one or two children, this was across the treatment group. A systematic societal delay, even if it's just 4 months, is worth talking about. Do we need further data? Of course, I'd love to see the follow-up at a time greater than 4 months to see if these kids remain behind the curve. But neither you nor I has collected that data, so the 4 mo data will have to do for now to generate hypotheses regarding longer term effects.

2) You make a valid point regarding a single video game, but I don't believe it is as applicable to a gaming system. As long as there continue to exist good titles that I have not played, my 360 use will not decline any huge amount. I get tired of individual games, not the system itself. I do agree that it would have been nice to compare these random control trials kids to long-term exposure kids, but any results would have had major sampling confounds so it makes sense the researchers did not include them (assuming they didn't -- who knows what was left out of the press article).

As you point out, it would be difficult if not impossible to compare kids with and kids without video games (in a study with random assignment) through high school. But we could look at kids like the ones in this group to see if the gap remains years in the future. In other words, do these kids recover when their peers start playing games, are they permanently behind 4 mos, and what can they do to compensate and/or catch up (i.e., parental monitoring?).

You mention goofing off as a confound. Again, these kids were randomly assigned to PS or no PS. If goofing off caused the decline in learning (and was solely to blame), it would have done so among the no PS kids and there would have been no effect for owning or not owning a PS. That wasn't the case, so the PS caused a decline in learning. Now, it is possible that other activities hurt learning even more (i.e., TV) but that would only mask the effect of owning a PS and make it look smaller than it is.

The biggest thing that worries me is an expectancy or pygmalion effect given that parents presumably knew (or at least guessed) the purpose of the study and teachers may have known about the study (they probably did, since teacher feedback was collected). Most importantly, did teachers know which kids were in each condition? Teacher-student pygmalion effects are fairly well documented. That could totally kill the results. We need the journal article to know whether the teachers were blind to the treatment.

You conclude that the results are invalid without having read the journal article, so having not read it either, I'll say it sounds reasonable to me. Earth-shattering news? Not so much. Important to actually empirically test it (not just another correlation survey study)? Definitely. For every common sense belief we confirm with decent science (so everyone can say "well duh, I knew that!") we disconfirm another.

You really should read the article... (1)

samael (12612) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506470)

Because the researchers raise your second point themselves:
"More research is also needed to determine if these findings apply over the long-term, Weis said.
"It could be that the novelty of video games wears off after four or six or eight months, and they basically don't play as much as they did when they first got the system," he said."

A que the kneejerk denials (2)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505760)

This study doesn't really show anything new.

It is well known that any student who spends less time studying will learn less then a student who spends more time.

Kids who spend a lot of time with sports, or have an artitic career tend to do less in academic pursuits. Of course there are exceptions but it ain't generally a surprise to find most jocks and girl/boy-bands to be dumb as shit.

There are other pursuits as well. Remember this one, the less sex you have in high school the more intelligent you are. (My IQ? 20... yes really. I swear... oh okay. 200)

Well no shit sherlock. There are 24 hours in a day, no matter how you try, you can only do so much in a single day and if you spend 30 seconds having sex, that is 30 seconds less study time.

So basically, kids who study less, learn slower. Shocking! Deny this study and you just look silly and are basically saying that a guy who spends all his time on the track should expect to be an A student.

Re:A que the kneejerk denials (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506060)

Except is it really the case that kids, without a playstation, could still find nothing they'd rather do than study?

Maybe. But that would be news. Because I think even without a playstation homework is boring and playing with foam swords or whatever is fun. Maybe even kids with kid-like energy get tired of everything else so are only up for homework or playsation? I don't know.

Re:A que the kneejerk denials (1)

dreampod (1093343) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506100)

Not really true at all.

Certainly children who spend large amounts of time of their extracurricular activities may do slightly more poorly on academics than children who spend a lot of time studying but the correlation is not very strong. Unless you are looking at systems like some Japenese where the majority of time out of school is spent on school related learning, even the most heavy studying student is only spending a couple hours a day doing so. Natural talent, interest, and motivation play as significant a role in learning as quantity of time spent studying. In many ways being extremely intelligent allows someone more leeway in how they spend their time as the studying is not necessary for their success.

My high school was quite interesting because about 60% of our male rugby team and 80% of our female were students in advanced placement courses and other university level academic classes (making up about 5% of the total school population). While many of us might have been able to score marginally higher by spending more time studying, we were all still comfortably getting university acceptances and scholarships without doing so.

Really?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505804)

Games are more fun/interesting than learning?? Stop......

I owe my love of tech, my career and more to games (1)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505842)

Ok, we had to program them when I was a kid. But through fussball, handheld space invaders and other late 70s/early 80s devices and systems, I learned to love the gadget world that I now depend on for a living. So, /eloquence mode off/ go screw yourself Mr Ohio! Oh, and my boy can read and write fine (for a five year old) despite the odd burst of Lego Star Wars or Mario Kart!

Back in my day.. (1)

onlysolution (941392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505854)

...games were more picturebook than cinema. One of my strong motivators for learning to read earlier than my peers was wanting to play text-heavy NES games like Dragon Warrior, Xexyz or Faxanadu.

Perhaps in this age of of movie-like games we should start our kids off playing text adventures...

Certainly true; as always, parenting required (2, Insightful)

penguinchris (1020961) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505860)

It's already been pointed out that this is a rather obvious result (not that I personally think that means the study wasn't worthwhile). Given the option, of course boys are going to choose video games over basically any other activity.

Personally, I think computer games harmed my intellectual development as a kid. Here's my anecdote.

I grew up around computers - my dad was into them and basically gave me free reign over whatever systems we ended up with in the house. He didn't ever teach me very much, leaving me to learn it all on my own. Of course I was most interested in games (Commander Keen era) but I spent a lot of time exploring what else was possible. I learned a whole lot about computers at a very early age that way.

A few years later, computer games for me really took off - especially because of Star Wars games like X-Wing, Dark Forces, and the rest... I had pretty much all of them, couldn't get enough. At that point, my primary intention when I fired up the computer was to get into the X-Wing cockpit as quickly as possible; I was no longer really interested in anything else.

This kind of went back and forth over the years... there would be periods when I'd briefly get really into something besides games (3D modeling, photoshop, basic programming, all kinds of stuff) - but that only lasted until the next great game came out, and I'd forget all that stuff. The only thing that really stuck from those interstitial phases was photo editing, which I consider myself an expert in now :)

Now, this still put me way ahead of the pack - I knew more about computers than anyone else at school. The reason is that I was actually using computers in all my spare time (even if I was just gaming) rather than playing Nintendo. I never had a console or handheld like every other kid seemed to have. In the mean time I played all the big computer games, and a lot of small ones, up until 2001 or 2002 when I lost interest. When I stopped playing computer games, I went straight back into learning all I could about computers and various software, and though I was still way ahead of most people I knew, I was actually way behind in general. I'd lost several years of computer knowledge to games, and I never really caught up as much as I think I could have.

Also during that time when I was constantly gaming, I missed out on other stuff. I didn't watch a lot of good films (now a major passion of mine), I didn't read a lot of good books (I have quite the collection of Star Wars books, though...), the only music I knew was The Beatles (not that I regret that), and so on. Thus, though I was still an unpopular nerd in high school, once I stopped playing computer games I found all this time that I could suddenly use for more interesting cultural and intellectual pursuits, and I'm really grateful that I didn't waste all of high school playing games.

I still do like games, but I take them in moderation and I wait a while after they come out to decide if I really want to spend time on it. I play through one or two games a year at most (most recent ones I spent a lot of time on were Civ IV and Fallout 3; I do also play most of the Call of Duty games as a guilty pleasure...) The rest of my time is spent doing things that are more intellectually stimulating or otherwise useful.

So what's my point... well, given the chance - and given that they aren't going to put much thought into how this will affect them in the future - boys are going to choose video games. If parents want their kids to know more than how to play first person shooters when they grow up, they should probably do some parenting. I'm very grateful that my parents let me do whatever I wanted growing up (more or less), but I don't think most kids can handle that responsibly. Most of my actual learning took place outside of school, and if I spent all my time playing video games like a lot of kids do now, I would be a completely different person today.

Re:Certainly true; as always, parenting required (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506552)

My Spectrum 48k came with 6 games, only my parents didn't let me have all of them in one go, stating the edjucation thing.

They were willing to buy me programming books though. I got them to buy me gaming books, filled with lines and lines of code.

These days, I play far to many games. I'll be forty soon and I cannot read or write for shit.

Parenting, Autism, and Lego Star Wars (5, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505874)

You know I'm not exactly down with the gratuitous of a lot of the stuff in society today - either sexual or violent, but, to just go and say video games are bad is entirely wrong.

My pre-school son is autistic, and one of the most helpful things that I ever did with him was to get him to play Lego Star Wars. First, we worked on the basic controller stuff, up, down, left, and right, and jump, and from that he was able to make the verbal connection between the play and he learned to not only do the controller, but could also communicate directions. Building on that, I worked on teaching him how to describe different things in the game, like colors, sounds, and from there, characters. Cut scenes proved to be really useful in getting him to be able to relate stories as to what was taking place. He's learning to share, and to ask for help, and to ask to do things, and get this, he's even learning how to give directions himself. He can ask to go back to Mos Eisely spaceport when he doesn't like a board. He's starting to understand money and getting better with saving and counting as we spent a weekend saving up to buy the Emperor. He's solving puzzles and he can describe situations where he gets stuck, and he can respond now to verbal cues in response. I can say "you have to jump on that platform and build this thing to climb up", and he will. He's learning bonding, as we sit next each other on a big beanbag the whole time we're playing. We're even getting into some of the moral lessons in the tale. Darth Vader was first a good guy, then became a bad guy, then became a good guy, so he's kinda getting the idea that there is redemption through action, and he's understanding some of the themes of helping your friends. And, honestly, its been a great spring board for me to engage him in his activities and at his level. I can sit down with him and do toy soldiers in the sandbox for four hours and really enjoy it.

Are there downsides? Sure... he lightsabers the dog too much and he gets carried away when he has to fight the bad guys in socially inappropriate situations. But, if you take the thing as a whole, I'd say my son is infinitely better off with Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones and the XBOX 360 than he ever would have been with just traditional instruction. Video games let you learn by doing, bond by sharing, and he's doing just that, and that's helped him grow as a person. If you are willing to blow hundreds of hours playing video games with your children, it will be one of the best things that you've ever done.

I highly recommend it.

My experience suggests the opposite. (4, Interesting)

GrpA (691294) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505888)

I'm going to add to this, even though my details are purely anecdotal.

My youngest son has learning difficulties and we've put in a lot of work to get him to the stage that he can learn at a normal school. it's an autism spectrum issue.

He plays a LOT of games, probably about 6 hours a day on average. No PS3 or X360, but PC games. Mostly BF2 Sandbox and games where he interacts with real people.

As a result, he has to do a LOT of typing and spelling while playing. It seems to have quite a positive effect, with teachers reporting an improvement in his english. His spelling is perfect and he's putting sentences together a lot more effectively than he previously did.

Communicating through forums and games on the Internet seems to have had a profound effect on him. he's motivated to learn while he's creating stories and worlds and co-ordinating other players.

The solution is simple. Mindless games lead to mindless results. Challenging games lead to academic improvement. Online games with other players lead to social improvements and communicating through messenger has left him learning more after-school than he's able to during class-time.

Even first person shooters can be educational, but it tends to me more on the PC multiplayer games where strategy and communications are key elements of the game.

GrpA

Despite these little items. . . (3, Insightful)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505916)

It's obvious that we're growing MUCH dumber people than we were fifty years ago. -Well, obvious to those who take the time to explore the issue, and by explore, I mean, compare stories.

If you are in your thirties, then talk to people who are twenty years older than you. Get them to tell you their stories about being a youth, then compare those stories to your own. Unless you stayed away from TV and electronic media in a big way, you'll be ashamed and distraught by how big a wuss you sound like by comparison to all the real-life Indiana Joneses out there. Sharp, educated, brave and bruised; people who experienced real adventures and lived to tell the story. And I'm just talking about basic rural living. There was a lot more heart to go around.

Then compare your own stories with the latest crop of plugged-in kids. Even you will sound like a superhero by contrast.

Like it or not, in broad strokes which cannot be easily summed up in statistical analysis of video game studies, THIS is the direction human evolution is going.

Interacting with the physical world and the people living in it teaches kids how to interact with the physical world and the people living in it. Nothing else does it better. -Whereas interacting with media teaches escapism.

I mean, sure, there are certainly pros and cons; the internet for instance can be used to waste time or it can be used to read and absorb real knowledge. The user's intent matters. But the fundamental truth is that when drugs are freely available, drugs usually win. Knowledge obtained through work, by contrast, is not addictive. Walking uphill is harder than rolling down a slope.

Amazingly, you can still raise brilliant, powerful kids. The human machine is fundamentally the same as it was before the advent of TV. Simply follow this protocol. . .

Don't have a TV in your house. Don't play video games. Don't be a computer addict. Eat non-toxic foods, read a lot and get outdoors to play a lot. Do all that as a parent and aside from loving your own life, your kids will follow suit. Oh, and hugs and love. Everybody needs love and hugs!

But it's not going to be an easy world to inherit. If there were any Huns, they'd be at the gate right now.

-FL

Re:Despite these little items. . . (2, Interesting)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506204)

Unless you stayed away from TV and electronic media in a big way, you'll be ashamed and distraught by how big a wuss you sound like by comparison to all the real-life Indiana Joneses out there. Sharp, educated, brave and bruised; people who experienced real adventures and lived to tell the story. And I'm just talking about basic rural living. There was a lot more heart to go around.

I am in my thirties. Back when I was 10 I loved spending time playing games. I also loved to go sailing, hike around the woods and otherwise have fun outdoors. The scouting group I used to sail with had a very simple policy for onboard discipline, if you failed to react in a prompt fashion you'd end up getting kicked by someone wearing army boots.

Why do you believe it has to be either/or? Just because there's a playstation in the house does not mean you can't go and get your teeth kicked in in a game of rugby.

I mean, sure, there are certainly pros and cons; the internet for instance can be used to waste time or it can be used to read and absorb real knowledge. The user's intent matters. But the fundamental truth is that when drugs are freely available, drugs usually win.

So what you're really saying is that you don't have the discipline to turn the tv off when it's there and hence your kids have to go without it as well? How about an alternative? Get in control of your own life before spawning offspring? Crazy idea, I know...but I think it's a lot better than the alternative. (Hint: look up what happens when kids that have been forcible deprived of "drugs" as you call them while their peers do have access move out of their parent's houses...)

Re:Despite these little items. . . (3, Interesting)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506256)

It's really within the past five years or so, with the rise of social networking, that a lot more kids have appeared on the Internet. Although I think kids should be policed better by their parents, I don't think it's a great issue them having access to such a great communications tool, within moderation.

However, what really shocks me is the level of their language and grammar skills. You look through comments on Facebook, YouTube etc. and aside from the large amount of swearing and abusing they seem to do, the quality of what most of them write is appalling! No capitalisation at the beginnings of sentences, no apostrophes, very little and poor use of punctuation...

I really used to think that this was just some part of their "street speak" and just a fashion thing, but it is everywhere now and I can only put it down to a huge decrease in the quality of education since I was at school between the late 60s and 1980.

It's also really disturbing that in the UK at the moment, 1 in 6 sixteen year old school-leavers don't have jobs and if the quality of the grammar I've seen is anything to go by, I can see why unfortunately.

Games aren't all bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31505932)

Maybe video games have just become too easy. When I started playing video games at age 9 I had to be able to read and write to even start them up on my inherited Apple II and I had to learn English to understand what was going on...

I helped a kid learn to read with video games. (2, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505946)

It was a little over ten years ago, I turned off the voice option (he didn't know there was one) and got him interested in Gabriel Knight Sins of the Fathers. He got incredibly interested because of how dark it was (hook, line, sinker). He would sit on my computer for hours reading the conversations between the characters, and I would help him with the hard words. His grades went up significantly at school after getting interested in that game.

He's in the Army now, take that as you like, but he went from a special slow learners class to a gifted and talented program.

WTF? Games ARE learning. The best one too! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505964)

Why do they thing nature invented games? It’s training for reality. Or in other words: Learning?

The only question is: What do you learn?
And that is a decision, parents have to make.

But hey, it’s so easy for incompetent parents and governments, to just blame games.
Maybe those people should have played a bit more with puppets, dogs, and other children when they were young...

But hey... to them, school is still considered good education. When all it is, is drill, to create obeying little drones. Just like Bismarck wanted it when he invented it as some form of military training, but for children.
(And you wondered why the grading system is so fucked up, and why you hated some things in school, that you later found out you loved. [Math, writing, team sports, etc.])

Re:WTF? Games ARE learning. The best one too! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31505980)

Yes yes, thank you Murphy’s law, for creating a typo right in the first sentence, when talking about education. ;)
And thank you too for me noticing it right between pressing “submit”, and the new page loading, so I can have a little moment of panic...

First po5t (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506086)

v7000 users of

Xcom (1)

Teknikal69 (1769274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506382)

I was always completely useless at geography until I started playing Xcom now I can pretty much point to anywhere major on the globe so I disagree. Mind you I suppose they don't make games quite like that now.

advancement for non-native English (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31506402)

Here in the Netherlands English ain't a native language, still most people understand/speak it.
While school start with English lessons at younger ages then 10 years ago, I think TV and games also have a big influence on the speed young Dutch people learn English.
Last week a cousin from just 7 years old come to my birthday. I was amazed that he could read and pronounce almost all in games texts.

All games he played on his Nintendo DS where in English, so I guess cause of all the English around him he gained interested in the language now has an advantage of people that don't play English games.
So for non-native English speakers the games are a good thing. (I can't say if it influenced his other educational activities)

Stupid (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506532)

This kind of study really annoys me. From the article:

>The researchers think the learning problems result from the drop in after-school actives with educational value.

In other words, it isn't actually video games that are the problem, but the kids doing less "after-school actives with educational value" - i.e. this is an issue for the parents.

I let my six year old son play his Playstation for some hours at the weekend, on the condition that every night he reads to me. Learning to read is hard work, using the Playstation to motivate him actually works really well. My son is learning to read much quicker than many of his classmates, thanks to the Playstation...

I blame parenting for this trend. (1)

Phoenix (2762) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506544)

I would like to see a study done where my children are tossed into the mix.

First of all, all three have a very strong desire to read which I instilled into them thanks to bedtime stories, reading times, and the allowing of the children to stay up late if they weren't tired...provided that they were reading.

This didn't impact sleep as the most determined of them only made it 45 minutes as a record before sleep clubbed them like baby harp seals.

They also enjoy interactive past times such as Role Playing games. Granted the current kick at the moment is Car Wars (I still have my compendium and Uncle Albert's Catalog from Hell), but there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a bunch of children applying the math they learned figuring out how much armor they can mount on the car and how fast they can get it to go. But, even then they have to read the manuals, they laugh at the jokes and they're getting interested in GURPS ( I'm so proud) and that involves a lot of reading.

Sure they play video games, but unlike many parents, I do not let the PS3 or the Wii become the electronic babysitter. They get some time per child per day and on weekends when the weather is nasty as all heck they'll get more time on the video games...but I monitor and make sure that they do not become so sucked into the world of electrons that they do not enjoy the world beyond it.

So, I blame the parenting. The simple fact that so many parents allow their children to be raised by electrons is the real cause as to why the test scores are showing a difference between those with and those without. They need to run a third grouping of those with and with parental guidance.

Study arrived at a poor conclusion... (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506562)

Now if they had said excessive game playing negatively impacted room cleaning and bathing...

It's specious reasoning... (1)

KarrdeSW (996917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506650)

That is to say, the findings aren't based on survey data of kids' game habits, but instead on a specific group of children that were randomly assigned to receive a PlayStation or not

There are a couple things wrong here, for some reason I don't necessarily believe that the control group is without video games, it just possibly has a slightly lower occurrence of them. The only thing the experimental group has noticeably more of is Playstations. Conclusion: Sony causes learning disabilities.

Through other correlative studies, we know that video games do not hinder other types of development (such as determining whether a kid is obese or not), but we do know that when you put a TV in a kid's room, their rate of childhood obesity skyrockets.

Wait... what's that? You need a television to use a Playstation!?

Depends on the type of game (1)

sciencewatcher (1699186) | more than 4 years ago | (#31506652)

Games that give instant rewards for simple motion actions like first person shooters will train the brain to seek out actions IRL that require a small amount of brain activity to provide the 'rewards'. Games that challenge the child to combine information from multiple viewpoints and create a greater reward in the end (parent involvement could do that trick) will train the brain to be useful in a sciencelab.
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