Parents have longed guessed that, if their children spend a disproportionate amount of time on computer games or in front of the television, their children might fail to develop important academic and social skills. Today, a comprehensive study by researchers from Cambridge University was released. It verified that even an extra hour of “screen time” a day at Year 10 is linked to a significant poorer attainment at GCSE level.
More than 800 14 year-old students were followed for two years. It was found that those who spent an extra hour a day on computer games, the Internet and television saw a fall in their GCSE results, equivalent to dropping a grade in two subjects. Those who spent an extra two hours a day on these same activities saw a fall, equivalent to dropping a grade in four subjects.
More importantly, it also found that pupils who did an extra hour of homework or reading performed significantly better than their peers.
While common sense may explain how time spent on homework may boost students’ performance at GCSE level, it was interesting the note that the same effect was achieved by simply recreational reading too. This is the result that many parents may find the most surprising. Could it be that reading for pleasure assists students in the assimilation and processing of the written word: an important skill to acquire when tackling written examinations? Perhaps there could be other factors involved: students who are more academic are simply more likely to enjoy the written word. This would be a useful area of research to investigate further.
However, it can be inferred that time spent reading different forms of literature can be time well spent and it can have major benefits in the subsequent growth and development of young minds.