Teenage boys are spending more hours gaming than they spend at school and it is impacting their literacy skills, a new study has found.
The University of NSW study revealed that boys were spending as much as nine hours a day playing video games.
Gonski Institute for Education director Prof Kim Beswick told Sky News there was reason to believe this was why recent NAPLAN tests showed boys lagging well behind girls in reading and writing proficiency.
She said that since 2008 there was a clear correlation between smart phone use and declining reading skills for boys.
She said it was unclear whether the negative effect of gaming was from the experience itself, or from the time it took away from other activities such as reading books.
“If someone is spending that much time gaming, they are clearly not doing other things,” she said. “It’s the opportunity cost more than the gaming itself perhaps.”
The professor said boys tended to spend more time on devices than girls and the activity was different.
She said boys used devices to play games, while girls used technology predominantly for social interaction.
Since social media involved messaging, this could account for why literacy skills were not as badly affected among girls.
Beswick urged parents to do whatever they could to delay their children having access to phones and iPads.
“If you’ve got young children where you are still in charge of the technology use, I’d be limiting it a great deal and trying to delay when kids get technology,” she said.
She said most children now had phones by the time they reached Year 7, but many children were using technology much earlier than this.