Playing games can make you smarter, but Facebook makes you stupid

In 2015, the global games market was worth an incredible $91.8 billion – but despite its growing popularity, it still gets a bum rap from the public and press when anything goes wrong in the world. However, a new study from RMIT University, Melbourne, has discovered that video games are actually good for you.

Playing games can make you smarter, but Facebook makes you stupid

It may be a stretch to say games will make you healthy, but according to RMIT’s research, teenagers who regularly engage in playing online games tend to get better school results. In contrast, those who spend time on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are actually more likely to fall behind in maths, reading and science.

Using the Program for International Student Assessment, RMIT’s School of Economics, Finance and Marketing tested more than 12,000 Australian 15-year-olds in maths, reading and science, while also looking into each student’s online habits. It’s from this data that Professor Alberto Posso and his team came to the conclusion that video games could actually help improve the skills learnt in school.

According to Posso, “students who play online games almost every day score 15 points above the average in maths and 17 points above average in science”. Conversely, those who used Facebook or other social networks every day scored 20 points worse in maths than those who never used social media at all.

Posso believes that online games actually help to reinforce what was taught in school thanks to their puzzle-solving nature, drawing upon general knowledge, maths, reading and science skills. Those who use social media more, however, are neither using those newly acquired skills nor using that time effectively to study.

Interestingly, Posso believes that “teachers might want to look at blending the use of Facebook into their classes as a way of helping [failing] students engage”.

Of course, you won’t see teachers recommending two hours of Final Fantasy XIV a day as homework any time soon, but the report does highlight how games could be a power for good.

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