What are electronic games doing to the adolescent brain?

Mobile and handheld technologies provide great opportunities for learning.  However, with the vast number of electronic games also available, it is easy for students to become distracted by these games at any hour of the day or night and in any location.  Globally, addiction to electronic games is becoming an increasing issue – with some players spending more than 12 hours a day playing games.

Here is some of the evidence about the negative impacts of too much gaming, including what is happening to the adolescent brain of students who spend too much time on these activities.

 

DA Gentile, H Choo, A Liau, T Sim, D Li, D Fung, A Khoo “Pathological Video Game Use Among Youths: A Two Year Longitudinal Study” (2011) Pediatrics Vol 127 No. 2, ppe319 – e329

This two year longitudinal study conducted in Singapore followed over 3,000 children in middle and high school.  It found that students who spent more time gaming had lower social confidence, greater impulsivity and were more likely to become pathological gamers. Further, the study found that those students who were pathological gamers were more likely to have lower school performance, along with disorders such as depression and anxiety.

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/2/e319.short

 

J-P Chaput, T Visby, S Nyby, L Klingenberg, N Gregersen, A Tremblay, A Astrup & A Sjodin “Video Game Playing Increases Food Intake in Adolescents: A Randomised Crossover Study” (2011) The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Vol 93, no. 6 1196 – 1203

This study examined the relationship between energy intake and gaming in 22 adolescent males.  It compared their energy intake after a period of gaming and also a period of rest.  Biological markers (appetite hormones and blood pressure) were used as measures, along with behavioural observations (spontaneous food intake).  The study concluded that participants had a higher energy intake when engaging in gaming than during rest and that this was regardless of their appetite sensations. This means students were eating more than they needed.

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/93/6/1196.short

 

S-B Hong, A Zalesky, L Cocchi, A Fornito, E-J Choi, H-H Kim, J-W Kim and S-H Li (2013) “Decreased Functional Brain Connectivity in Adolescents with Internet Addiction” PLoS ONE 8(2): e57831. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057831

In this study, the brains of 12 adolescents with a diagnosed internet addiction were examined in comparison with 11 “healthy” adolescents.  The study found that there was reduced functionality in parts of the brains of those with the addiction.

 

M-H Park, E-J Park, J Choi, S Chai, J-H Lee, C Lee, D-H Kim “Preliminary Study of Internet Addiction and Cognitive Function in Adolescents based on IQ Tests” Psychiatry Research Vol 190, Issues 2-3, 30 December 2011, pages 275-281

This study commenced with a screening of over 500 middle and high school students to identify those with an internet addiction and compared 59 internet addicted students to 43 non-addicted students using an IQ test.  Results showed that the students with an internet addiction had lower scores in relation to comprehension than the control group.  Further research is required to determine whether this is cause or effect ie. Does the lower comprehension predispose the student to internet addiction, or does the internet addiction cause brain changes?

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165178111005786

 

If your school subscribes to www.studyskillshandbook.com.au  you can learn more about how to prepare for exams and manage stress with your schoolwork by working through the units on the site. Check if your school subscribes here.

Prue Salter
Enhanced Learning Educational Services
The study skills specialist!
Study Skills Resources: www.enhanced-learning.net
Online Study Skills Handbook: www.studyskillshandbook.com.au

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TIPS ON MAKING THE MOST OF THE END OF YEAR SCHOOL REPORT

1. Before the report arrives home, write your own school report. Make up a grid similar to this (below) for all subjects, and pretend to be the teacher and write about yourself. You could also create a grid that simulates your previous school report.

Subject Grade (A-E) Effort (A-E) Teacher’s comment
English
Maths

 

This gives you the opportunity to reflect on your own performance at school.

2. Read your report looking for positives. Most students will have find areas to commend.

3. The report should be viewed as a vehicle to move forward, and not be perceived as a final judgment of your ability – because it is not. It’s a “screenshot” and not the whole story. It is important to know you have the ability to modify and change your work ethic or study strategies, and that you can improve. The report is an opportunity to highlight strengths and weaknesses, and can help you develop goals for next year.

 4. Compare the yearly report to the Semester 1 report and last year’s report. This can be useful to identify specific subject areas where there has been an improvement or a decline.  If grades improved, celebrate this achievement. If the grades declined, think why this may be the case. For example, Semester 1 report grades may have been based on assignments and not exams. This could flag that exams were either not fully prepared for and study skills should be reviewed, or you need exam practice as they are a very different mode to demonstrate knowledge, or perhaps new concepts were introduced in Semester 2 and these could be weaknesses to work on!

 5. Don’t just look at grades, focus on effort also. Your performance is not measured solely by grades. Not every student will receive an A or B, in fact the average student would mostly like achieve a C grade (which typically represents the middle 60%). Effort grades however can reflect the teacher’s perspective on how hard you worked, your commitment to fulfill homework, assignments and contribution in class. A student who achieved a C grade, or 55%, yet gained an A for effort should be congratulated. Again, as the report should be viewed as a discussion and evaluation, if the effort grade is lower, think why this might be the case, and make a note of this to form one of the goals for next year.

6. Consider the “year average” mark or grade. Many schools will include the year average grade as well as your grade. This is important to consider. If you attained a 75%, and the year average was 62%, then you are well above the average. Celebrate this.  It’s also important to consider the academic strength of the school. If it is a selective high school, or a school where HSC results are consistently high, the year average would be considerably higher than the State average. For example, if you are at a school where 50% of the Year 12 students achieved an ATAR of 90 or over, and you are in the top half of the average, this needs to be considered, even if you achieved a 70%.

7. Teachers’ comments. Obviously if there is a consistent thread from multiple teachers, this needs to be addressed. For example, if many teachers comment on your lack of concentration, or need to focus on answering the question, then the comments suggest a specific area of weakness.

8. Grades varying between subjects, and compare exam results with assessment results. Identify specific subjects where grades were ‘low’ and where others were ‘high’. It is not uncommon for students to have strengths in some subjects and weaknesses in others. Few people excel across all subject areas, particularly in Years 7 – 10 when they have not yet been able to refine their academic program to areas of interest or strength. If grades vary, what are the reasons? It could be simply that you did not study for a subject at all, or had misread a heavily weighted question. Similarly compare exam grades against assessment grades. If your exam marks are noticeably less than the assessment grades, it could easily identify a weakness in exam technique and/or revision, and not be a reflection of ability or understanding. Remember, examinations are just one medium for determining knowledge.

 9. Establish goals for next year and consider a holiday review program (even if only 1 hour a week). The report can, and should, be read as an instrument to create goals for next year, and possibly plan a holiday review program. As students in December typically focus on the long summer holidays, freedom and unstructured days, it’s natural for school work to wane. However, now is the time to create goals for next year, whilst the academic year remains in your recent memory. It is more difficult to establish goals in February. Identify 3 – 5 goals for next semester. Some goals could be:

  • Focus on reading the question in assignments/exams carefully to ensure the question is answered.
  • Ensure I make summary notes when I finish each topic.
  • Do at least 30 minutes reviewing what I learned at school each day, in addition to homework.
  • Ask the teacher if I don’t understand a concept.
  • For example, if Maths is a weakness, spend 1 hour a week doing extra Maths practice. When the goals are listed put them in a prominent place – fridge, bedroom wall, notice board etc. It would also be prudent to develop a holiday review program if there are specific subjects or areas of subjects that are weak. This does not need to be extensive, in fact, shouldn’t, however regular practice of specific subjects that will be required for cumulative learning next year can make an enormous difference.  

If your school subscribes to www.studyskillshandbook.com.au  you can have your students learn more about goal setting and how to make the most of school by working through the units on the site. Check if your school subscribes here.

NOTE: The CONTENT on this blog and the email newsletters is NOT TO BE COPIED, reproduced or shared in any form.

The only exception to this are the SUBSCRIBING SCHOOLS to www.studyskillshandbook.com.au who have permission to use these tips in their school newsletters, forward to students and parents or post on school noticeboards.

 

Prue Salter
Enhanced Learning Educational Services
The study skills specialist!
Study Skills Resources: www.enhanced-learning.net
Online Study Skills Handbook: www.studyskillshandbook.com.au

 

 

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STUDY SKILLS TIP #58 – MANAGING TECHNOLOGY USE

by psalter on November 1, 2014

Top 10 Tips for Students for Managing Technology Distractions:

  1. Allocate specific times for work and for technology- this can be tricky given that much of the time students need to use technology for research.  However, making a timetable which clearly identifies time for homework/study, games and other online activities, means you know that you will soon get an opportunity to get back online.  It’s best to make these blocks in the time when you aren’t at your most “productive” with work.
     
  2. Turn off your technology distractions - turn off as many things as you can eg. phone, ipad, ipod, Facebook, Instagram, even your computer if you don’t need it for that piece of work.  If you aren’t aware of messages or notifications coming in, then you won’t need to check them.  Try it for half an hour and then get back to your messages once you’ve finished that work block.
     
  3. Set clear goals - once you have achieved your work goal, reward yourself with technology. Allow yourself 20 minutes of guilt free online time.
     
  4. Set a timer – if you can’t stop gaming or checking facebook, even when your allocated time is up, set an annoying timer….which you place away from where you are playing, so that you have to get up to turn off.  Once it’s off, you have already broken the connection to the game and it should be easier to get on with your work.
     
  5. Install software on your computer to help manage distractions – there are lots of different packages available to assist you in controlling your computer use – how long you use particular programs for and what you use.  More information is available for subscribers to www.studyskillshandbook.com.au in the Managing Distractions Unit of the Study Skills Handbook http://www.studyskillshandbook.com.au/inside/inside_content/home5c.html

     
  6. Don’t make in-App purchases – lots of us have downloaded a “free” app only to get caught up in the cycle of “in app” purchases so we can just get one more level or win.  Making a deal with yourself to wait for a while to have another go at a game both saves money and gives you 20-30 minutes to focus on schoolwork instead.
     
  7. Remember TV is technology too - working in front of the TV can be just as distracting as other forms of technology.  Save up your easy work – like title pages, or filing, to do in front of the TV and use your technology free time to focus on more challenging work.
     
  8. Enlist some help – ask your parent or sibling to help you manage your technology distractions by sitting near you while you work to monitor what you are doing, testing you on your current topics or holding on to your devices for you.
     
  9. Find a different place to work - some work can be done outside, or while you are exercising.  Why not step outside to review your study notes, or read your novel?  Record your notes or listen to a podcast when you are out walking the dog?
     
  10.  Do some mental skills development – if you really need to improve your focus, attention and memory, try doing some specific exercises.  http://www.cogmed.com.au/schools offers a formal school based program.  Also  http://www.lumosity.com/ http://www.mindgames.com/brain-games.php

If your school subscribes to www.studyskillshandbook.com.au  you can learn more about how to prepare for exams and manage stress with your schoolwork by working through the units on the site. Check if your school subscribes here.

Prue Salter
Enhanced Learning Educational Services
The study skills specialist!
Study Skills Resources: www.enhanced-learning.net
Online Study Skills Handbook: www.studyskillshandbook.com.au

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STUDY SKILLS TIP #57 – HOW TO STAY POSITIVE AS EXAMS APPROACH

October 1, 2014

This month’s tip from Rocky Biasi at Human Connections.  Learn more about ‘tapping’ techniques that can help manage stress at: https://xb145.isrefer.com/go/entap/Enhanced/ SYDNEY ONLY: Individuals (parents and students) may be interested in attending a workshop in Sydney during October run by Karen Gilles on enhancing self-awareness and self-understanding, which will also help stress management: http://www.embodiedgroundedconnection.com/Workshops.html. Watch this […]

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STUDY SKILLS TIP #57 – HOW TO STAY POSITIVE AS EXAMS APPROACH

October 1, 2014

Recently a student sent this email: Hi I was wondering if you could do a tip on staying positive when you are stressed and feeling depressed as our exams are coming up and I have been feeling depressed lately and I think it would help. It can be difficult to stay positive or “be up” […]

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STUDY SKILLS TIP #56 – MULTI-TASKING RESEARCH

August 31, 2014

Even though parents and teachers tell students that multi-tasking is not an effective way to work, sometimes students just don’t believe them! They think they are different, they think it is just something parents and teachers say with no evidence. So here are some academic research studies to demonstrate to students where the proof is […]

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STUDY SKILLS TIP #55 – WHERE TO FIND HELP

August 1, 2014

Where can you find help when you are struggling at school? PERSONAL ISSUES If things in your life are upsetting you or stressing you this will affect your ability to learn effectively. Talk to your family, talk to your friends or other people you are close to or teachers you feel comfortable sharing with. However […]

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STUDY SKILLS TIP #54 – MANAGING STRESS & RELAXING

July 1, 2014

Seven Quick Tips to Help you Relax The daily demands of life, such as exams, peer pressure, and homework assignments, or the challenges of relationships, family, or not making it on a sporting team can lead to an overwhelming feeling of stress. What you need to learn is how to cope with these situations in […]

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STUDY SKILLS TIP #53 – HAVING SET TIMES FOR SCHOOLWORK

June 1, 2014

Many students when they come home from school end up just waiting until they might ‘feel’ like doing schoolwork. Or else they drag the work out over the whole night. A much better way to work is each night have set allocated times for schoolwork, 2-3 half hour blocks. During this time you should do homework […]

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STUDY SKILLS TIP #52 – THINKING AHEAD

May 1, 2014

Are you riding a rollercoaster at school? Rollercoaster study is where you stay up late doing last minute assignments, then you take it easy for a while and do very little, then panic again when something is due and have to spend huge amounts of time at the end completing the work. If you plan […]

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