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Health & Parenting

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Playing Video Games May Zap Homework

Gamers May Spend Less Time Reading and Doing Homework Than Kids Who Don't Play Video Games
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 2, 2007 -- Playing video games may mean spending less time reading or doing homework, according to new research on video games and children.

That news appears in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Data came from diaries completed by nearly 1,500 U.S. kids and teens aged 10-19 during the 2002-2003 school year.

In the diaries, participants accounted for how they spent their time. They kept the diaries twice -- once on a randomly chosen weekday and once on a randomly chosen Saturday or Sunday.

More than a third of the group -- 36% -- reported playing video games. Most of the video game players -- 80% -- were boys.

"Compared with nongamers, adolescent gamers spent 30% less time reading and 34% less time doing homework," write researchers Hope Cummings, MA, and Elizabeth Vandewater, PhD.

Cummings works in the University of Michigan's department of communications studies. Vandewater works for the University of Texas at Austin's Center for Research on Interactive Technology, Television, and Children.

Time Playing Video Games

Gamers played video games for an hour on the weekdays and 1.5 hours on weekend days on average.

Boys tended to spend more time than girls playing video games.

"Female gamers spent an average of 44 minutes playing on the weekdays and one hour and four minutes playing on the weekends," write the researchers. "Male gamers spent an average of 58 minutes playing on the weekdays and one hour and 37 minutes playing on the weekends."

Effect of Video Games on Kids' Time

The study shows that gamers and nongamers spend a similar amount of time with their parents and friends. But schoolwork was another story.

"Although gamers and nongamers did not differ in the amount of time they spent interacting with family and friends, concerns regarding gamers' neglect of school responsibilities (reading and homework) are warranted," write Cummings and Vandewater.

The study appears in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

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