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Timesplitters: playing video games before (but not after) school on weekdays is associated with poorer adolescent academic performance. A test of competing theoretical accounts

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 07:16 authored by Drummond, A, James SauerJames Sauer
Video games are a common pastime for adolescents. There has been a relatively enduring concern that time spent playing video games might undermine students’ academic performance. Hartanto, Toh, and Yang (2018) suggested that frequent gameplay, particularly frequent weekday video gameplay, might displace students’ homework; reducing academic performance, albeit by a small amount. Although some evidence has been presented supporting this view, the emerging evidence is mixed. Significant theoretical flaws have also limited our understanding of the relationship between video game play and adolescent academic performance. Here we show that, across approximately 219,000 students, the frequency of video gameplay does not appear to have a systematic relationship with academic performance, confirming the results of earlier research (Drummond & Sauer, 2014). Moreover, although there is a small-moderate reduction in academic performance for some weekday players, this reduction only occurs for players who play in the mornings before school. Players who play in the evenings after school show no meaningful difference in academic performance to non-users. As no existing theoretical accounts of the relationship between gameplay and academic performance adequately explain this finding, we propose that the results most likely support a third variable explanation. That is, video game play does not appear to affect academic results per se. The results further suggest that media psychologists and educational researchers analysing large datasets must be especially diligent when specifying and testing theory, especially with regards to what evidence would effectively falsify such theory. Failing to do so increases the risk of false discovery.


Publication title

Computers and Education








School of Psychological Sciences


Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd

Place of publication

The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Ox5 1Gb

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Copyright 2019 Elsevier Ltd.

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Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in psychology

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