Influence of Computer Games on Young People Academic Performance

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The effects of computer games on young children – a review of the research

Jessica Harris

“The views expressed in this report are those of the authors, not necessarily those of the Home Office (nor do they reflect Government policy).”

RDS Occasional Paper No 72

The Research, Development and Statistics Directorate
RDS is part of the Home Office. The Home Office's purpose is to build a safe, just and tolerant society in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced and the protection and security of the public are maintained. RDS is also a part of the Government Statistical Service (GSS). One of the GSS aims is to inform Parliament and the citizen about the state of the nation and provide a window on the work and performance of government, allowing the impact of government policies and actions to he assessed. Therefore Research Development and Statistics Directorate exists to improve policy making, decision taking and practice in support of the Home Office purpose and aims, to provide the public and Parliament with information necessary for informed debate and to publish information for future use.

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©Crown copyright 2001 Application for reproduction should be made to the Communications and Development Unit, Room 201, Home Office, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London, SW1H 9AT. ISBN 1 84082 629 0


I would like to express my thanks to Professor Jack Sanger of the Anglia Polytechnic University for his advice and assistance in undertaking this review. I am also very grateful to my work colleague David Brown for his helpful advice and comments on the report. Jessica Harris




Page Summary 1. 2. Introduction Methodology 2.1. 3. Weaknesses of studies v 1 3 4 7 7 10 11 11 12 13 13 17

A review of the research findings 3.1. 3.2 3.3. 3.4. 3.5. Aggression Aggression and self-esteem Addiction Crime Academic achievement


Discussion Figure 4.1: The positive and negative effects of computer games on young children

Appendix A. Table of all studies reviewed: • • • • • Aggression Self-esteem Addiction Crime Academic achievement

17 18 18 18 18 19

Bibliography and references




Little research has been carried out into non-arcade electronic game playing as this was originally perceived as a harmless and enjoyable pastime. However, with the ever-increasing interest and participation of young children in this activity, much concern has been expressed about the effects of these games on children. At the centre of the debate is the question of whether they are detrimental to a young person’s healthy development. There are specific concerns about the implications for aggression, addiction, criminal activity and reduced academic achievement. This review examines the research on the effects of computer games on young children. It covers studies conducted between 1985 and 1994. (Relatively little recent research has been carried out.)

The review
The review uncovered some negative and some positive consequences for young children of playing computer games: • some studies suggest that the playing or observing of violent games does affect young children negatively as they show increased levels of aggressive behaviour – at least in the short term • • • • other studies suggest that computer games have little or no...
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