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Video Games May Boost Kids' Reading Ability

Update Date: Feb 28, 2013 02:59 PM EST

Many parents believe that their children spend too much time playing video games and should spend more time doing their homework. However, according to a recent study, playing video games may help children boost their reading ability. The study found that playing action video games drastically improved the reading performance of children with dyslexia.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Padua and the Scientific Institute of Eugenio Medea, both in Italy. According to the National Library of Medicine, dyslexia is a developmental reading disorder that occurs when the brain cannot properly recognize certain symbols. However, the study built upon research that suggested that dyslexia, a condition that affects 1 in 10 children, was not a problem with language, but rather was an issue with visual attention.

The researchers conducted the study with two groups of children with dyslexia. Before the study was conducted, the researchers administered tests that examined the children's attentional, phonological and reading skills. Then, for nine days, the children played either action or non-action video games for 80 minutes each. Then the children received the same tests that had been administered before playing the video games.

The researchers found that playing action video games for a mere 12 hours drastically improved the reading ability of the children. In fact, it improved the reading pace of the children, without sacrificing their accuracy, more than an entire year of spontaneous reading development. Playing action video games for 12 hours also resulted in about the same or more improvement than traditional rigorous reading treatments. The study was published in the journal Current Biology.

"Action video games enhance many aspects of visual attention, mainly improving the extraction of information from the environment," study author Andrea Facoetti said in a statement. "Dyslexic children learned to orient and focus their attention more efficiently to extract the relevant information of a written word more rapidly."

This study is only the latest health benefit from playing video games. Another recent study found that surgeons who played the Nintendo Wii were significantly more successful when they performed laparoscopic surgery.

In addition, a study published in July found that playing active video games served as an impressive way to promote physical fitness.

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