March 29, 2009 // 11:23 am
- PlayStation and Xbox games help children become the scientists and engineers of the future, a professor claims.
To quote: Children who spend hours every day on their Playstation or Xbox video consoles are improving their brains, according to new research.
A study of 12 year-olds found they boosted crucial visual-spatial skills in which a child learns by thinking in pictures and images.
Psychologist Professor Linda Jackson
, who led the study, said: "And these are the areas where we want to see improvements in our children's academic performance."
The findings are likely to surprise supporters of tougher regulation of computer games - some of which have been blamed for influencing violent crime among children.
The three-year study is part of a larger project exploring the effects of technology on children's academic performance and their social life, psychological well-being and moral reasoning.
Rsearchers asked how often the children used cell phones and played video games, both online and offline, and measured the children's grades, visual-spatial skills and performance in maths and reading tests.
As expected girls used cell phones more frequently than boys - who played video games far more frequently than did the females.
Prof Jackson said it's unrealistic to think children will stop playing video games, so video game developers should focus more on the elements that develop visual-spatial skills and less on themes such as violence.
Also, more games should be developed that appeal to girls to better develop their visual-spatial skills, which are essential in professions such as surgery, she said.
"Girls are at a disadvantage by not having that three-dimensional experience," said Prof Jackson. "So when they get to medical school and they're doing surgery in the virtual world, they're not used to it."
Cell phones also had no effect on academic performance, according to the findings published by the Conference Proceedings of the International Association for Development of the Information Society (IADIS) in Barcelona.