Study reveals the ideal amount of screen time for students

 

Too many hours spent playing video games at night are damaging school students' reading and numeracy NAPLAN test results, a new study has revealed.

Spending more than four hours on a school night gaming or trawling the internet meant students were 15 per cent less likely to attain a higher reading score and 17 per cent less likely to obtain a high numeracy score, the UNSW study found.

But using devices in moderation on weekdays for between one and two hours a night improved NAPLAN reading scores, with those children 13 per cent more likely to get higher reading scores than those who spent less than an hour on devices.

Sans Souci brothers Ethan and Ryan Arnold are keen gamers at weekends and during holidays but not on school nights. Picture: Justin Lloyd.
Sans Souci brothers Ethan and Ryan Arnold are keen gamers at weekends and during holidays but not on school nights. Picture: Justin Lloyd.

The study's author Raaj Kishore Biswas said time spent reading websites and solving tricky games could be behind the benefits of screen time - however the study showed any benefits were lost when students use their devices for more than four hours a night during the week.

"The results of this study show that parental monitoring and/or self-regulation of timing and intensity of internet use and gaming are essential to prevent negative effects on academic performance," he said.

Mr Biswas said these impacts were mainly because students would skip school, miss classes, or put less effort into homework because of their addiction. According to the study, girls were at slightly higher risk of internet and gaming addiction than boys.

The research used data from the Telethon Institute's Young Minds Matter survey of 1700 Australian students aged 11-17 and found girls were slightly more likely to exhibit addictive internet use than boys.

A study found spending more than four hours on a school night gaming or trawling the internet led to poorer performance at school.
A study found spending more than four hours on a school night gaming or trawling the internet led to poorer performance at school.

Secondary Principals' Council president Craig Petersen agreed moderate use of technology was beneficial for students but said unfortunately more students were now gaming excessively.

"It is not uncommon to have children up to two o'clock in the morning gaming and on Instagram but we know the brain needs a certain amount of sleep each night," he said.

In addition to hampering academic success, he said students who spend a lot of time gaming had impaired social skills and could not regulate their emotional impulses.

"Anecdotally children who engage in excessive use of technology we see presenting aggressive behaviours because they lack the social skills to interact with their peers and teachers," he said.

Sans Souci mum Larissa Arnold said her sons Ryan, 13, and Ethan, 9, played video games on the weekend and in school holidays but not through the week.

"Generally I don't like them gaming during the school term but once it gets to the weekend they can do whatever they want," she said.

Originally published as Study reveals the ideal amount of screen time for students


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