While most parents blame the ubiquitous cell phone and the perennial video games for poor academic performance of their children, a new study has refuted all such claims saying that these modern-day gadgets have no detrimental effects on students report cards.
Lead researcher Linda Jackson, Michigan State University professor of psychology revealed that video games did not appear to affect math skills and had a positive relationship with visual-spatial skills.
These skills - in which a child learns visually, by thinking in pictures and images - are considered the "training wheels" for performance in science, technology, engineering and math.
"And these are the areas where we want to see improvements in our children's academic performance," Jackson added.
During the study, the research team surveyed students from 20 middle schools and an after-school centre in Michigan.
They asked how often the children used cell phones and played video games, both online and offline, and measured the children's grades, visual-spatial skills and performance on standardized tests in math and reading.
When it comes to cell phones, Jackson said she saw no harmful effects to the students' academic performance. However, further research is needed on older students who are more apt to engage in "devious behaviour" such as text-messaging test answers to each other, she said.
While the researchers found a strong link between video games and lower grade point averages, it did not affect kids' math skills.
The study showed that females used cell phones more frequently than did males, while males played video games far more frequently than did females.
Jackson suggests that it's unrealistic to think kids will stop playing video games, so video game developers should focus more on the elements that develop visual-spatial skills and less on themes such as violence.
Also, more games should be developed that appeal to girls to better develop their visual-spatial skills, which are essential in professions such as surgery, she said.