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Sep 11 2017
by Nicole Molinari

5 Ways Video Games Can Improve Your Grades

By Nicole Molinari - Sep 11 2017

Many of us heard the following saying from our parents growing up: "Drop the games and go do your homework!" Little did our parents, or we, know that playing video games may actually have had a positive effect on our grades. This isn't to say that you should completely ignore your school work to play games, but it is important to know that playing games can improve your academic performance, while also providing you with some enjoyable down time. Here are five ways that playing video games can help improve your grades. Or in other words, here are five ways to prove to your parents that you don't have to give up gaming in order to excel in school.

1. Students benefit from knowing how to use computer software.

In a study published by the UK's National Children's Bureau, the concept of familiarity with software is very important. The study found that students who spent time on computers for one to three hours per day had better knowledge of how to use word processing and presentation programs. Why is this prevalent? It's simple: These basic computer skills were hardly taught in schools when I was younger, and only now is it becoming a big conversation in the world of education. In a world where communication technology directly correlates with our success in school and the workplace, these basic skills are invaluable.

2. Your brain uses basic skills you learn in school.

People who play online video games tend to perform better in math, science and reading. This is because video games are complex puzzles in which you must perform well to move up a level. When your brain is determining the most effective methods for "solving the puzzle," you're actually using basic math, science and reading skills. 

3. Students who are more satisfied with their lives excel more in school.

Let's break this concept down into a few steps. Many studies compare the usage of video games to the usage of social networking sites. A common trend is a positive correlation between video games and academic performance, while there is a negative trend between social media usage and grades. Let me explain: When people play video games, it acts as a mental escape, because they immerse themselves in their own world and it relieves them of social pressures, whereas social media increases the social pressures we feel. The less social pressure we feel, the happier we are, and the happier we are, the more likely we are to do better in school because we are emotionally healthy.

A gentle reminder: while it can be healthy to escape reality via gaming for a while, it can quickly and easily turn into a bad habit. In the worst cases, some people completely isolate themselves from others to play games. Always remember that it is important to strike a balance between gaming and interacting with others.

4. It can help people with dyslexia.

For anyone who doesn't know, dyslexia is a learning disability that makes it difficult for people to read, write and spell. Oxford University suggests that dyslexic people experience difficulty shifting between senses, such as hearing and seeing, thus they believe playing video games that require users to constantly shift their attention may help improve literacy skills for people with dyslexia. Oxford has stated that their research is limited and there is still much more we don't know, but there is reason to believe that games can help dyslexics learn to refocus their attention quickly, which may improve their reading skills and help with school. For more information, speak to your doctor or a specialist about this.

5. Gaming may help improve a range of cognitive skills.

Examples of these skills are spatial navigation, perception, reasoning and more. These skills cannot be taught; They must be learned and acquired over time. Education has long been focused on learning basic technical skills. While important, students often take for granted opportunities to improve cognitive skills, because many of us aren't aware of how much they contribute to our success. School doesn't always stimulate our brains the way we need it to, so playing video games is a beneficial way to de-stress and spend some down time. Gaming can also improve our problem-solving skills, which are crucial to our development as young adults.

The debate between the pros and cons of video games is often heated and has yet to be settled. While people generally perceive gamers as lazy and isolated, there is reason to suggest that gaming may be beneficial for your health. 

A cautionary note: There are still plenty of questions about the impact of video games on academic performance. While these studies are credible, they admit to other possible factors that influence academic performance. The Guardian mentioned the possibility that while video games may help your grades indirectly, you should also consider that people who are naturally intelligent may be more drawn towards video games, and students who work more efficiently may have more time to play games. In both of these cases, there are other variables that significantly influence academic performance, indicating that the positive correlation between gaming and grade improvement is not set in stone.

Lead image credit: rodrigomullercwb via Pixabay

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Nicole Molinari - Wilfrid Laurier University

Nicole is a sophomore at Wilfrid Laurier University who is pursuing a major in business administration and a minor in writing. She loves working part time as a lifeguard, and in her spare time she enjoys reading and making memories with friends. A victim of late night syndrome, she knows she needs more sleep but wouldn't want to live her life any other way.

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