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  • Published: 10 December 2020

Effect of internet use and electronic game-play on academic performance of Australian children

  • Md Irteja Islam 1 , 2 ,
  • Raaj Kishore Biswas 3 &
  • Rasheda Khanam 1  

Scientific Reports volume  10 , Article number:  21727 ( 2020 ) Cite this article

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  • Human behaviour
  • Risk factors

This study examined the association of internet use, and electronic game-play with academic performance respectively on weekdays and weekends in Australian children. It also assessed whether addiction tendency to internet and game-play is associated with academic performance. Overall, 1704 children of 11–17-year-olds from young minds matter (YMM), a cross-sectional nationwide survey, were analysed. The generalized linear regression models adjusted for survey weights were applied to investigate the association between internet use, and electronic-gaming with academic performance (measured by NAPLAN–National standard score). About 70% of the sample spent > 2 h/day using the internet and nearly 30% played electronic-games for > 2 h/day. Internet users during weekdays (> 4 h/day) were less likely to get higher scores in reading and numeracy, and internet use on weekends (> 2–4 h/day) was positively associated with academic performance. In contrast, 16% of electronic gamers were more likely to get better reading scores on weekdays compared to those who did not. Addiction tendency to internet and electronic-gaming is found to be adversely associated with academic achievement. Further, results indicated the need for parental monitoring and/or self-regulation to limit the timing and duration of internet use/electronic-gaming to overcome the detrimental effects of internet use and electronic game-play on academic achievement.

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Over the past two decades, with the proliferation of high-tech devices (e.g. Smartphone, tablets and computers), both the internet and electronic games have become increasingly popular with people of all ages, but particularly with children and adolescents 1 , 2 , 3 . Recent estimates have shown that one in three under-18-year-olds across the world uses the Internet, and 75% of adolescents play electronic games daily in developed countries 4 , 5 , 6 . Studies in the United States reported that adolescents are occupied with over 11 h a day with modern electronic media such as computer/Internet and electronic games, which is more than they spend in school or with friends 7 , 8 . In Australia, it is reported that about 98% of children aged 15–17 years are among Internet users and 98% of adolescents play electronic games, which is significantly higher than the USA and Europe 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 .

In recent times, the Internet and electronic games have been regarded as important, not just for better results at school, but also for self-expression, sociability, creativity and entertainment for children and adolescents 13 , 14 . For instance, 88% of 12–17 year-olds in the USA considered the Internet as a useful mechanism for making progress in school 15 , and similarly, electronic gaming in children and adolescents may assist in developing skills such as decision-making, smart-thinking and coordination 3 , 15 .

On the other hand, evidence points to the fact that the use of the Internet and electronic games is found to have detrimental effects such as reduced sleeping time, behavioural problems (e.g. low self-esteem, anxiety, depression), attention problems and poor academic performance in adolescents 1 , 5 , 12 , 16 . In addition, excessive Internet usage and increased electronic gaming are found to be addictive and may cause serious functional impairment in the daily life of children and adolescents 1 , 12 , 13 , 16 . For example, the AU Kids Online survey 17 reported that 50% of Australian children were more likely to experience behavioural problems associated with Internet use compared to children from 25 European countries (29%) surveyed in the EU Kids Online study 18 , which is alarming 12 . These mixed results require an urgent need of understanding the effect of the Internet use and electronic gaming on the development of children and adolescents, particularly on their academic performance.

Despite many international studies and a smaller number in Australia 12 , several systematic limitations remain in the existing literature, particularly regarding the association of academic performance with the use of Internet and electronic games in children and adolescents 13 , 16 , 19 . First, the majority of the earlier studies have either relied on school grades or children’s self assessments—which contain an innate subjectivity by the assessor; and have not considered the standardized tests of academic performance 16 , 20 , 21 , 22 . Second, most previous studies have tested the hypothesis in the school-based settings instead of canvassing the whole community, and cannot therefore adjust for sociodemographic confounders 9 , 16 . Third, most studies have been typically limited to smaller sample sizes, which might have reduced the reliability of the results 9 , 16 , 23 .

By considering these issues, this study aimed to investigate the association of internet usage and electronic gaming on a standardized test of academic performance—NAPLAN (The National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy) among Australian adolescents aged 11–17 years using nationally representative data from the Second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing—Young Minds Matter (YMM). It is hypothesized that the findings of this study will provide a population-wide, contextual view of excessive Internet use and electronic games played separately on weekdays and weekends by Australian adolescents, which may be beneficial for evidence-based policies.

Subject demographics

Respondents who attended gave NAPLAN in 2008 (N = 4) and 2009 (N = 29) were removed from the sample due to smaller sample size, as later years (2010–2015) had over 100 samples yearly. The NAPLAN scores from 2008 might not align with a survey conducted in 2013. Further missing cases were deleted with the assumption that data were missing at random for unbiased estimates, which is common for large-scale surveys 24 . From the initial survey of 2967 samples, 1704 adolescents were sampled for this study.

The sample characteristics were displayed in Table 1 . For example, distribution of daily average internet use was checked, showing that over 50% of the sampled adolescents spent 2–4 h on internet (Table 1 ). Although all respondents in the survey used internet, nearly 21% of them did not play any electronic games in a day and almost one in every three (33%) adolescents played electronic games beyond the recommended time of 2 h per day. Girls had more addictive tendency to internet/game-play in compare to boys.

The mean scores for the three NAPLAN tests scores (reading, writing and numeracy) ranged from 520 to 600. A gradual decline in average NAPLAN tests scores (reading, writing and numeracy) scores were observed for internet use over 4 h during weekdays, and over 3 h during weekends (Table 2 ). Table 2 also shows that adolescents who played no electronic games at all have better scores in writing compared to those who play electronic games. Moreover, Table 2 shows no particular pattern between time spent on gaming and NAPLAN reading and numeracy scores. Among the survey samples, 308 adolescents were below the national standard average.

Internet use and academic performance

Our results show that internet (non-academic use) use during weekdays, especially more than 4 h, is negatively associated with academic performance (Table 3 ). For internet use during weekdays, all three models showed a significant negative association between time spent on internet and NAPLAN reading and numeracy scores. For example, in Model 1, adolescents who spent over 4 h on internet during weekdays are 15% and 17% less likely to get higher reading and numeracy scores respectively compared to those who spend less than 2 h. Similar results were found in Model 2 and 3 (Table 3 ), when we adjusted other confounders. The variable addiction tendency to internet was found to be negatively associated with NAPLAN results. The adolescents who had internet addiction were 17% less and 14% less likely to score higher in reading and numeracy respectively than those without such problematic behaviour.

Internet use during weekends showed a positive association with academic performance (Table 4 ). For example, Model 1 in Table 4 shows that internet use during weekends was significant for reading, writing and national standard scores. Youths who spend around 2–4 h and over 4 h on the internet during weekends were 21% and 15% more likely to get a higher reading scores respectively compared to those who spend less than 2 h (Model 1, Table 4 ). Similarly, in model 3, where the internet addiction of adolescents was adjusted, adolescents who spent 2–4 h on internet were 1.59 times more likely to score above the national standard. All three models of Table 4 confirmed that adolescents who spent 2–4 h on the internet during weekends are more likely to achieve better reading and writing scores and be at or above national standard compared to those who used the internet for less than 2 h. Numeracy scores were unlikely to be affected by internet use. The results obtained from Model 3 should be treated as robust, as this is the most comprehensive model that accounts for unobserved characteristics. The addiction tendency to internet/game-play variable showed a negative association with academic performance, but this is only significant for numeracy scores.

Electronic gaming and academic performance

Time spent on electronic gaming during weekdays had no effect on the academic performance of writing and language but had significant association with reading scores (Model 2, Table 5 ). Model 2 of Table 5 shows that adolescents who spent 1–2 h on gaming during weekdays were 13% more likely to get higher reading scores compared to those who did not play at all. It was an interesting result that while electronic gaming during weekdays tended to show a positive effect on reading scores, internet use during weekdays showed a negative effect. Addiction tendency to internet/game-play had a negative effect; the adolescents who were addicted to the internet were 14% less likely to score more highly in reading than those without any such behaviour.

All three models from Table 6 confirm that time spent on electronic gaming over 2 h during weekends had a positive effect on readings scores. For example, the results of Model 3 (Table 6 ) showed that adolescents who spent more than 2 h on electronic gaming during weekdays were 16% more likely to have better reading scores compared to adolescents who did not play games at all. Playing electronic games during weekends was not found to be statistically significant for writing and numeracy scores and national standard scores, although the odds ratios were positive. The results from all tables confirm that addiction tendency to internet/gaming is negatively associated with academic performance, although the variable is not always statistically significant.

Building on past research on the effect of the internet use and electronic gaming in adolescents, this study examined whether Internet use and playing electronic games were associated with academic performance (i.e. reading, writing and numeracy) using a standardized test of academic performance (i.e. NAPLAN) in a nationally representative dataset in Australia. The findings of this study question the conventional belief 9 , 25 that academic performance is negatively associated with internet use and electronic games, particularly when the internet is used for non-academic purpose.

In the current hi-tech world, many developed countries (e.g. the USA, Canada and Australia) have recommended that 5–17 year-olds limit electronic media (e.g. internet, electronic games) to 2 h per day for entertainment purposes, with concerns about the possible negative consequences of excessive use of electronic media 14 , 26 . However, previous research has often reported that children and adolescents spent more than the recommended time 26 . The present study also found similar results, that is, that about 70% of the sampled adolescents aged 11–17 spent more than 2 h per day on the Internet and nearly 30% spent more than 2-h on electronic gaming in a day. This could be attributed to the increased availability of computers/smart-phones and the internet among under-18s 12 . For instance, 97% of Australian households with children aged less than 15 years accessed internet at home in 2016–2017 10 ; as a result, policymakers recommended that parents restrict access to screens (e.g. Internet and electronic games) in children’s bedrooms, monitor children using screens, share screen hours with their children, and to act as role models by reducing their own screen time 14 .

This research has drawn attention to the fact that the average time spent using the internet, which is often more than 4 h during weekdays tends to be negatively associated with academic performance, especially a lower reading and numeracy score, while internet use of more than 2 h during weekends is positively associated with academic performance, particularly having a better reading and writing score and above national standard score. By dividing internet use and gaming by weekdays and weekends, this study find an answer to the mixed evidence found in previous literature 9 . The results of this study clearly show that the non-academic use of internet during weekdays, particularly, spending more than 4 h on internet is harmful for academic performance, whereas, internet use on the weekends is likely to incur a positive effect on academic performance. This result is consistent with a USA study that reported that internet use is positively associated with improved reading skills and higher scores on standardized tests 13 , 27 . It is also reported in the literature that academic performance is better among moderate users of the internet compared to non-users or high level users 13 , 27 , which was in line with the findings of this study. This may be due to the fact that the internet is predominantly a text-based format in which the internet users need to type and read to access most websites effectively 13 . The results of this study indicated that internet use is not harmful to academic performance if it is used moderately, especially, if ensuring very limited use on weekdays. The results of this study further confirmed that timing (weekdays or weekends) of internet use is a factor that needs to be considered.

Regarding electronic gaming, interestingly, the study found that the average time of gaming either in weekdays or weekends is positively associated with academic performance especially for reading scores. These results contradicted previous literatures 1 , 13 , 19 , 27 that have reported negative correlation between electronic games and educational performance in high-school children. The results of this study were consistent with studies conducted in the USA, Europe and other countries that claimed a positive correlation between gaming and academic performance, especially in numeracy and reading skills 28 , 29 . This is may be due to the fact that the instructions for playing most of the electronic games are text-heavy and many electronic games require gamers to solve puzzles 9 , 30 . The literature also found that playing electronic games develops cognitive skills (e.g. mental rotation abilities, dexterity), which can be attributable to better academic achievement 31 , 32 .

Consistent with previous research findings 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , the study also found that adolescents who had addiction tendency to internet usage and/or electronic gaming were less likely to achieve higher scores in reading and numeracy compared to those who had not problematic behaviour. Addiction tendency to Internet/gaming among adolescents was found to be negatively associated with overall academic performance compared to those who were not having addiction tendency, although the variables were not always statistically significant. This is mainly because adolescents’ skipped school and missed classes and tuitions, and provide less effort to do homework due to addictive internet usage and electronic gaming 19 , 35 . The results of this study indicated that parental monitoring and/ or self-regulation (by the users) regarding the timing and intensity of internet use/gaming are essential to outweigh any negative effect of internet use and gaming on academic performance.

Although the present study uses a large nationally representative sample and advances prior research on the academic performance among adolescents who reported using the internet and playing electronic games, the findings of this study also have some limitations that need to be addressed. Firstly, adolescents who reported on the internet use and electronic games relied on self-reported child data without any screening tests or any external validation and thus, results may be overestimated or underestimated. Second, the study primarily addresses the internet use and electronic games as distinct behaviours, as the YMM survey gathered information only on the amount of time spent on internet use and electronic gaming, and included only a few questions related to addiction due to resources and time constraints and did not provide enough information to medically diagnose internet/gaming addiction. Finally, the cross-sectional research design of the data outlawed evaluation of causality and temporality of the observed association of internet use and electronic gaming with the academic performance in adolescents.

This study found that the average time spent on the internet on weekends and electronic gaming (both in weekdays and weekends) is positively associated with academic performance (measured by NAPLAN) of Australian adolescents. However, it confirmed a negative association between addiction tendency (internet use or electronic gaming) and academic performance; nonetheless, most of the adolescents used the internet and played electronic games more than the recommended 2-h limit per day. The study also revealed that further research is required on the development and implementation of interventions aimed at improving parental monitoring and fostering users’ self-regulation to restrict the daily usage of the internet and/or electronic games.

Data description

Young minds matter (YMM) was an Australian nationwide cross-sectional survey, on children aged 4–17 years conducted in 2013–2014 37 . Out of the initial 76,606 households approached, a total of 6,310 parents/caregivers (eligible household response rate 55%) of 4–17 year-old children completed a structured questionnaire via face to face interview and 2967 children aged 11–17 years (eligible children response rate 89%) completed a computer-based self-reported questionnaire privately at home 37 .

Area based sampling was used for the survey. A total of 225 Statistical Area 1 (defined by Australian Bureau of Statistics) areas were selected based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing. They were stratified by state/territory and by metropolitan versus non-metropolitan (rural/regional) to ensure proportional representation of geographic areas across Australia 38 . However, a small number of samples were excluded, based on most remote areas, homeless children, institutional care and children living in households where interviews could not be conducted in English. The details of the survey and methodology used in the survey can be found in Lawrence et al. 37 .

Following informed consent (both written and verbal) from the primary carers (parents/caregivers), information on the National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) of the children and adolescents were also added to the YMM dataset. The YMM survey is ethically approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of Western Australia and by the Australian Government Department of Health. In addition, the authors of this study obtained a written approval from Australian Data Archive (ADA) Dataverse to access the YMM dataset. All the researches were done in accordance with relevant ADA Dataverse guidelines and policy/regulations in using YMM datasets.

Outcome variables

The NAPLAN, conducted annually since 2008, is a nationwide standardized test of academic performance for all Australian students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 to assess their skills in reading, writing numeracy, grammar and spelling 39 , 40 . NAPLAN scores from 2010 to 2015, reported by YMM, were used as outcome variables in the models; while NAPLAN data of 2008 (N = 4) and 2009 (N = 29) were excluded for this study in order to reduce the time lag between YMM survey and the NAPLAN test. The NAPLAN gives point-in-time standardized scores, which provide the scope to compare children’s academic performance over time 40 , 41 . The NAPLAN tests are one component of the evaluation and grading phase of each school, and do not substitute for the comprehensive, consistent evaluations provided by teachers on the performance of each student 39 , 41 . All four domains—reading, writing, numeracy and language conventions (grammar and spelling) are in continuous scales in the dataset. The scores are given based on a series of tests; details can be found in 42 . The current study uses only reading, writing and numeracy scores to measure academic performance.

In this study, the National standard score is a combination of three variables: whether the student meets the national standard in reading, writing and numeracy. Based on national average score, a binary outcome variable is also generated. One category is ‘below standard’ if a child scores at least one standard deviation (one below scores) from the national standard in reading, writing and numeracy, and the rest is ‘at/above standard’.

Independent variables

Internet use and electronic gaming.

In the YMM survey, owing to the scope of the survey itself, an extensive set of questions about internet usage and electronic gaming could not be included. Internet usage omitted the time spent in academic purposes and/or related activities. Playing electronic games included playing games on a gaming console (e.g. PlayStation, Xbox, or similar console ) online or using a computer, or mobile phone, or a handled device 12 . The primary independent covariates were average internet use per day and average electronic game-play in hours per day. A combination of hours on weekdays and weekends was separately used in the models. These variables were based on a self-assessed questionnaire where the youths were asked questions regarding daily time spent on the Internet and electronic game-play, specifically on either weekends or weekdays. Since, internet use/game-play for a maximum of 2 h/day is recommended for children and adolescents aged between 5 and 17 years in many developed countries including Australia 14 , 26 ; therefore, to be consistent with the recommended time we preferred to categorize both the time variables of internet use and gaming into three groups with an interval of 2 h each. Internet use was categorized into three groups: (a) ≤ 2 h), (b) 2–4 h, and (c) > 4 h. Similar questions were asked for game-play h. The sample distribution for electronic game-play was skewed; therefore, this variable was categorized into three groups: (a) no game-play (0 h), (b) 1–2 h, and (c) > 2 h.

Other covariates

Family structure and several sociodemographic variables were used in the models to adjust for the differences in individual characteristics, parental inputs and tastes, household characteristics and place of residence. Individual characteristics included age (continuous) and sex of the child (boys, girls) and addiction tendency to internet use and/or game-play of the adolescent. Addiction tendency to internet/game-play was a binary independent variable. It was a combination of five behavioural questions relating to: whether the respondent avoided eating/sleeping due to internet use or game-play; feels bothered when s/he cannot access internet or play electronic games; keeps using internet or playing electronic games even when s/he is not really interested; spends less time with family/friends or on school works due to internet use or game-play; and unsuccessfully tries to spend less time on the internet or playing electronic games. There were four options for each question: never/almost never; not very often; fairly often; and very often. A binary covariate was simulated, where if any four out of five behaviours were reported as for example, fairly often or very often, then it was considered that the respondent had addictive tendency.

Household characteristics included household income (low, medium, high), family type (original, step, blended, sole parent/primary carer, other) 43 and remoteness (major cities, inner regional, outer regional, remote/very remote). Parental inputs and taste included education of primary carer (bachelor, diploma, year 10/11), primary carer’s likelihood of serious mental illness (K6 score -likely; not likely); primary carer’s smoking status (no, yes); and risk of alcoholic related harm by the primary carer (risky, none).

Statistical analysis

Descriptive statistics of the sample and distributions of the outcome variables were initially assessed. Based on these distributions, the categorization of outcome variables was conducted, as mentioned above. For formal analysis, generalized linear regression models (GLMs) 44 were used, adjusting for the survey weights, which allowed for generalization of the findings. As NAPLAN scores of three areas—reading, writing and numeracy—were continuous variables, linear models were fitted to daily average internet time and electronic game play time. The scores were standardized (mean = 0, SD = 1) for model fitness. The binary logistic model was fitted for the dichotomized national standard outcome variable. Separate models were estimated for internet and electronic gaming on weekends and weekdays.

We estimated three different models, where models varied based on covariates used to adjust the GLMs. Model 1 was adjusted for common sociodemographic factors including age and sex of the child, household income, education of primary carer’s and family type 43 . However, the results of this model did not account for some unobserved household characteristics (e.g. taste, preferences) that are unobserved to the researcher and are arguably correlated with potential outcomes. The effects of unobserved characteristics were reduced by using a comprehensive set of observable characteristics 45 , 46 that were available in YMM data. The issue of unobserved characteristics was addressed by estimating two additional models that include variables by including household characteristics such as parental taste, preference and inputs, and child characteristics in the model. In addition to the variables in Model 1, Model 2 included remoteness, primary carer’s mental health status, smoking status and risk of alcoholic related harm by the primary carer. Model 3 further included internet/game addiction of the adolescent in addition to all the covariates in Model 2. Model 3 was expected to account for a child’s level of unobserved characteristics as the children who were addicted to internet/games were different from others. The model will further show how academic performance is affected by internet/game addiction. The correlation among the variables ‘internet/game addiction’ and ‘internet use’ and ‘gaming’ (during weekdays and weekends) were also assessed, and they were less than 0.5. Multicollinearity was assessed using the variance inflation factor (VIF), which was under 5 for all models, suggesting no multicollinearity 47 .

p value below the threshold of 0.05 was considered the threshold of significance. All analysis was conducted in R (version 3.6.1). R-package survey (version 3.37) was used for modelling which is suited for complex survey samples 48 .

Data availability

The authors declare that they do not have permission to share dataset. However, the datasets of Young Minds Matter (YMM) survey data is available at the Australian Data Archive (ADA) Dataverse on request ( ).

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The authors would like to thank the University of Western Australia, Roy Morgan Research, the Australian Government Department of Health for conducting the survey, and the Australian Data Archive for giving access to the YMM survey dataset. The authors also would like to thank Dr Barbara Harmes for proofreading the manuscript.

This research did not receive any specific Grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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Centre for Health Research and School of Commerce, University of Southern Queensland, Workstation 15, Room T450, Block T, Toowoomba, QLD, 4350, Australia

Md Irteja Islam & Rasheda Khanam

Maternal and Child Health Division, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), Mohakhali, Dhaka, 1212, Bangladesh

Md Irteja Islam

Transport and Road Safety (TARS) Research Centre, School of Aviation, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia

Raaj Kishore Biswas

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Review article, psychosocial impacts of mobile game on k12 students and trend exploration for future educational mobile games.

research about mobile games and academic performance

  • 1 School of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore
  • 2 China Foreign Affairs University, Beijing, China
  • 3 School of Chemistry and Biomolecules Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
  • 4 Faculty of Public Health, Mahidol University, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand
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Due to the popularity and advancement of 4G/5G networks, mobile games have already currently become profitable tools for major internet platforms. These games are even refined to cover almost all age groups of the population rather than the young people. Yet in the perception of the public, mobile games have always seemed to be associated with various derogatory terms such as interfering with learning, addiction, and violence. K12 students usually have less self-control capability, and they are undoubtedly the biggest advocates of mobile games. This paper summarizes the technological development of mobile games from the aspects of hardware and software in chronological order. The psychological and social problems that mobile games have brought to K12 students are analyzed from a neutral perspective. At the end of the paper, the future development of educational games and current limitations of mobile games are also given for the explorations of future trends of game-based education. This position paper aims to provide the insight of what psychosocial impacts that the current mobile games have on the student, and it may also serve as a reference for the how the game-based education has been developing according to the mobile technology wise.


Due to the popularity of smart terminals and the advancement of 5G networks, mobile games are currently the most popular type of games, as well as profitable tools for major internet platforms. Mobile games can be combined from different levels and content categories, covering different, personalities and preferences ( Martin et al., 2020 ). As a result mobile games are now refined to cover almost all age groups of the population, not just young people. Yet in the perception of the public, mobile games have always seemed to be associated with various derogatory terms such as interfering with learning, addiction and violence.

K12 students are refer to the students in the age group from Kindergarten (usually 5–6 years old) to Grade 12 (usually 17–18 years old) ( Kurt et al., 2022 ). Students in this age group usually have less self-control capability, and they are undoubtedly the biggest advocates of mobile game. When they play certain games for long periods of time their behavior and psychological state will be changed in a subtle way. The main issue is that mobile games may contain unhealthy contents such as pornography, violence, ignorance, superstition, etc. which implicitly affect the formation of the correct value system and the healthy development of their body and mind for these K12 students ( Destyanto et al., 2017 ). In addition, some young people indulge in mobile games due to lack of self-control, which not only result in harmful influence on their studies but also induces a series of negative social activities and social relationship ( Kurt et al., 2022 ).

The pioneers of communication science, Lazarsfeld and Merton, argued that modern mass media have a clear negative function of “psychoanesthesia.” Some violent mobile games reveal the nature of the “psychoanesthesia” function in another textual dimension: they create illusions through inexpensive and negative entertainment, thus eating away at the social mobility of those young people in an implicit cultural way ( Kurt et al., 2022 ). Craig Anderson found that the “psychoanesthetic” mechanism of violent mobile games increases the physiological arousal of aggressive behavior, cognition, emotions, and violent impulses, and reduces pro-social behavior in adolescents ( Elsherbiny and Al Maamari, 2021 ; Kurt et al., 2022 ). Accordingly, violent behavior has become the main “product component” of mobile games “inflicted” on adolescents. Moreover, its basic social manifestations can be summarized in four points: firstly, it creates and activates networks of thinking related to violent aggression; secondly, it weakens the inhibition process of violence; thirdly, the game’s violent reward rules allow aggressive behavior to be imitated and reinforced in the “mimetic environment;” and fourthly, the binary values of right and wrong in games can reduce young people’s empathy ( Elsherbiny and Al Maamari, 2021 ).

Mobile games do not only imply a behavior, but also contain a value, which might be sometimes anti-social in nature. Violent mobile games on the Internet may portray the grandeur, hooliganism, and banditry of triad bosses and gangsters, contributing to the psychology of adolescent violence. In particular, the propaganda of “materialism” in violent online games can easily lead young people to abandon their original morals and values, so that the “money first” mentality gradually seeps into their minds and leads to a distorted way of thinking and personality.

This position paper therefore infer the future development of educational games from existing mobile games, and shares some insights into the current limitations, and critically analyses the above issues from a neutral perspective, discusses the psychological impacts and social problems that mobile games may cause for K12 students ( Arteaga et al., 2012 ). It also offers the future development of mobile games and the limitations of current educational games in order to explore future trends in gamified education. This paper can also be considered as a reference on how gamified education is evolving in light of mobile technology.

Technological Development of Mobile Game

From feature phone to smartphone.

Nowadays, almost everyone who owns a smartphone has been exposed to mobile games at one time or another. It may be a mini-game embedded in a web page or app, or a large 3D online game like “Arena of Alor” or “Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds” ( De Gloria et al., 2014 ). These games have a huge update from the mobile games of over a decade ago, both in scale and in audio and video experience. And most mobile phones now have larger screens and touch screens have become the main way to use mobile phones, which did not exist on the same level mobile phones in 10 years ago, which has promoted the development of mobile games ( Rubino et al., 2015 ).

The continuous evolution of cell phone hardware has brought about a constant change in the needs of gamers. There was a time when the only requirement for gamers was that their phones could run a particular game, but now gamers want smoother games, no lag when playing online, and even want their phones to be able to turn on the highest picture quality of the game ( Ma et al., 2019 ). This means that the hardware that provides key performance in the phone and the network environment that the phone relies on also needs to evolve to meet the increasingly diverse needs of gamers ( Wang et al., 2020 ). Gradually, mobile phones and mobile games have worked together to promote growth and form the industry shape we see today. In addition to entertainment, mobile games also carry part of people’s social needs in their daily lives ( Yang and Gong, 2021 ).

Twenty years ago, the average person was still using 2G networks and physical button phones were just starting to become popular ( Jang et al., 2019 ). At the time, most phones only had a black and white screen of about 1 inch, and due to system and network capacity limitations, only the games built into the phone could be played, such as Snake, Tetris, etc ( Figure 1 ). These were indeed interesting, but they were just ordinary games to kill the time.

Figure 1. Representative mobile games from 1994 to 2019.

After 2003, color screen cell phones and PDAs began to occupy the consumers’ vision, the hardware performance of cell phones began to improve, the software and system functions were gradually enriched. At the same time, electronic games began to appear on cell phones in various forms ( Syahrivar et al., 2022 ). Since Symbian had strict limits on the resolution and number of threads for software development, and J2ME development had a maximum memory limit, the vast majority of mobile games did not exceed 1 MB in size until the new Symbian system appeared in 2006, when these restrictions were lifted one by one ( de Byl, 2014 ).

The popularity of color-screened phones allowed game developers to see the opportunity, and some very well-known games such as Need for Speed, Call of Duty, Command and Conquer, and many others launched dedicated mobile versions ( Berlo et al., 2020 ). Many small development teams and enthusiasts also developed board games such as chess, Texas hold’em into mobile versions. A variety of mobile phone native games began to appear at this time, such as “Tower Bloxx” and “Galaxy on Fire” in 2005 were enjoyable for handheld gamers at the time ( Haney, 2017 ). Around 2005, when client-side mobile games were just exploding, there were already many specialized game makers developing mobile games for non-smartphones, but limited by the speed and stability of cell phone networks, and they were eagerly anticipating the popularity of 3G and 4G, but failed to foresee the rapid explosion of smartphones ( Sosins, 2013 ; Manning and Buttfield-Addison, 2017 ; Papadakis, 2021 ).

From Keyboard to Touch Screen

In 2008, with the birth of iOS and Android, Apple successfully pioneered the touch screen cell phone, after the mobile game from the constraints of the physical keyboard, such as “Angry Birds,” “Plants vs. Zombies,” “Fruit Ninja,” “Temple Run” and a series of new hand quickly occupied the market share in 1 year ( Vaiopoulou et al., 2021 ). The introduction of Angry Birds made the public realize for the first time that the era of mobile games may be coming ( Kalogiannakis et al., 2022 ).

“Angry Birds”, developed by Rovio and launched in 2009, is another phenomenal product. Throughout the game, gamers only need to do one action, which is to press and hold the bird on the slingshot in the screen to drag and release ( Villasana et al., 2020 ). Such a simple operation overturned the public’s inherent impression of how mobile games are presented, so Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope, launched a year later, both became star products at the time for their sophisticated gameplay design and simple sliding operation ( Thomas et al., 2019 ). Few people may know that the first release of the game Doodle Jump in 2009 was developed for touchscreen phones, and only a year later came a version that supported physical button phones. That’s because around 2010, the popularity of large-screen touch phones with smart systems made a radical change in the way mobile games were operated ( Thomas et al., 2019 ).

The birth of the iPhone and the resulting trend in the use of touch screen created not only revolutionized the user’s experience of operating cell phones, but also made hand games free from the limitations of the physical keyboard, with new operation ways of playing other than “up, down, left and right” ( Škařupová et al., 2016 ). If we say that the high price of iPhone may to a certain extent prevent the further expansion of the user scale of smartphones, Android is waiting for the opportunity to fill the gap to complete the last blow of smart phones to feature phones ( Ghosh et al., 2018 ).

Take iOS as an example, App Store is the only (or the main) channel value, hand game developers still have the leisure of “slow work, fine work,” but by the limitation of iPhone ownership, the income of developers at this time is much shabbier compared with today ( Bagaa et al., 2018 ). For example, in 2011, the highest-grossing handheld game in China was “World War II Storm,” and its monthly flow was only $800,000 ( Paseka and Schwab, 2020 ).

In 2010, Google announced its withdrawal from China because of its refusal to censor content. Although Android as an operating system was not affected much, but as we all know, Google Play, a connected service, was given the risk of instability ( Liu et al., 2020 ). The reason why smart phones are “smart” is that they allow users to obtain applications through channels and support users to freely configure applications in hardware terminals, when the official channels of Android are covered with a layer of haze, coupled with the unique openness of Android, the status of channel providers for distributing handicraft products is increasingly important ( Thien et al., 2020 ). This is the biggest enlightenment brought to practitioners by the mobile Internet in the outbreak stage.

From 2G to 5G

With the issuance of 4G LTE license by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2013, domestic cell phone users officially ushered in the 4G era ( Karabiyik et al., 2020 ). In 2014, the real-time competitive MOBA hand game “Vainglory” was launched, emphasizing the real-time nature of network online, while “Magic Spirit Summoning,” “Tower Legend” and other nurturing RPG games, although the gameplay is focused on the standalone part, the official will regularly update a large amount of game content to keep the game fresh and the passion of gamers, so an efficient network becomes very important ( Wang et al., 2015 ).

4G networks ( Figure 2 ) use LTE technology on the prime 1,800 and 800 M spectrum bands, with a theoretical maximum mobile network speed of 100 Mbps and actual 10 M–30 Mbps. 5G networks use Massive MIMO technology in the 3.5 GHz range, which can theoretically reach a wireless data rate of 1 Gbps, greatly increasing wireless data bandwidth and enabling mobile games with less hourly delay and faster rate, giving gamers a better and faster gaming experience ( Zappone et al., 2016 ). Mobile games are a cross-regional, cross-cultural, cross-racial, and cross-religious entertainment. It allows gamers to realize the ability to be entertained at home, on the subway, and outdoors with gamers around the world at any time. These demands reflect the advantages of 4G LTE and later 4G LTE-A networks, which can provide bandwidth based on priority, allowing more traffic to devices with higher download demands and transferring data to multiple devices at the same time, thus making the mobile network a stronger experience. Whether it’s skin updates for MOBAs or massive updates for nurturing games, which can be downloaded to gamers’ phones faster ( Buzzi et al., 2012 ).

Figure 2. Evolution of mobile generation from 1G to 5G.

In 2015, “Arena of Alor” was publicly tested together with “We MOBA” and other multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, and most handheld gamers were brought into the tide of MOBA games ( Buzzi et al., 2016 ). These games are not only fast to get started, but also have compact gameplay and gorgeous graphics effects, which not only require excellent performance of network environment where the handheld gamers are located, but also challenge the hardware performance of cell phones ( Zhang et al., 2017 ). The complex lighting and particle effects in the game make the CPU and GPU in the SoC take a lot of pressure; at this time, the modem in the phone can’t be idle and needs to coordinate the network to cope with transferring the various data that occur in the game. Such comprehensive needs have led more cell phone manufacturers to start launching products that emphasize cell phone performance and networking capabilities ( Chiang et al., 2021 ).

This trend has prompted more developers to bring a wider variety of games with richer titles to the mobile platform. Almost every year, several topical titles emerge, such as “Crackdown 3” in 2016, “Monument Valley 2” in 2017, and “World in Pictures” and “Florence” in 2018, which expose more smartphone users to the “video game” entertainment genre ( Guo et al., 2019 ). For most gamers, the connected competitive games like 2018’s Peaceful Elite handheld, Wild Ride 9: Racing Legends and the new Call of Duty Mobile in 2019 are their best choices ( Guo et al., 2019 ).

From black and white screen feature phones to large screen touch smartphones, not only cell phones have changed over the past 10 years, but the way we work, live and play games has changed dramatically. As 5G technology gets closer to us, mobile games will take on a more diverse look with new technology and new hardware, such as 5G cloud games will also bring richer game products to more gamers, using 5G’s high speed and low latency advantages, host and PC games will also become possible to load in real time on the mobile side ( Habiba and Hossain, 2018 ). This will also bring a different game experience for handheld gamers.

The 4G era has brought about the rise of handheld gaming, which has now became an important part of the global gaming landscape, with countless numbers of handheld gamers, and the demand for mobile gaming performance continues to increase. The advent of the 5G era will change the game experience for gamers at this stage, which is limited by equipment and network latency ( Akbar et al., 2021 ). Although 5G is still in its infancy, it will definitely have a significant impact on the global gaming market in the future ( Oberst et al., 2017 ).

As 5G technology matures, one of its main applications is to provide a smooth cloud gaming experience. In addition, the low latency of 5G and the convenience of smartphones will make mobile devices a key platform for cloud gaming. Due to the advancement in the network, major mobile manufacturers are now launching 5G gaming phones to cater to the market and provide a better gaming experience to the gamers. Therefore gaming phones have also become one of the selling points for cell phone manufacturers.

Psychosocial Effect of Mobile Game on K12 Children Education Performance

Public awareness—negative content of mobile game.

Many elementary school students are addicted to mobile games and cannot extricate themselves from games, some of them even steal their parents’ money to recharge for playing games and play truant. They only think about the mobile games all day and all night, and think of all the ways to play games, so they are not interested in studying at all and their academic performance is in a mess. It seems obvious that the more time you spend playing games, the worse your academic performance, and there are studies that have found a correlation between time spent on video games and students’ academic performance ( Padilla-Walker et al., 2009 ). But is poor academic performance really the fault of gaming? It is important to note that “correlation” does not mean “causation”: for example, just because “sleeping in shoes” is associated with “getting up in the morning with a headache,” does that mean that “sleeping in shoes causes headaches” is causal? In fact, why do you sleep with your shoes on? The most likely reason is that one forgets to take off one’s shoes before lying down in bed after drinking too much, and this is the factor that has a real causal relationship with “getting up in the morning with a headache” ( Seo et al., 2019 ).

A student who is repeatedly frustrated with his grades, expects appreciation and has high expectations of himself, has no outlet for his pent-up emotions. But in mobile games he can not only vent his stress but also receive a quick reward ( Chafouleas et al., 2021 ). The situation of students who are already not excelling in their academic performance will get worse because playing games will waste time in learning, thus creating a vicious circle ( Laws and Millward, 2001 ), i.e., although playing games takes away from our studies, playing games may only be one point in the chain, and the reasons that lead us to play games are actually more complex.

Why Are Games Addictive but Learning Is Usually NOT?

Compared with learning, mobile games have distinct advantages that games tend to have some measure the progress of participants to some extent, meaning that their effort is visible and obvious, whereas learning does not ( Luder et al., 2020 ). There is progress in learning, but it is a slow process and people are not sensitive to small changes ( Chen, 2017 ). The simplest example should be hair, i.e., hair grows every day, but it is generally unconscious. If you get a haircut once a year, and within a year your hair changes from short to long, people around you will not think you have changed, but 1 day you get a haircut and it becomes as short again as it was a year ago, people will be surprised and say what a big change you have made. But take that big change and put it over a long period of time and it won’t feel like much. It’s the same with studying, but many people fist pump and swear, then study for a while, feel they haven’t made much progress, and give up. This is the objective basis for the old cliché on Know Your Enemy that “hard work doesn’t always lead to progress” ( Chen and Gregory, 2009 ). The game makes this process visible, turning a large amount into many tiny amounts, and it is important to feel that you are improving.

Long-Term and Short-Term Goals

The tasks set in the game are mostly achievable goals, not too easy and not too hard. There is a lot of data analysis behind this degree of accuracy ( Wang et al., 2020 ). Increasing participation in games is linked to their benefits and results. Not so with learning. The average person does not have this analysis; you put a 500-page book in front of them and they will not even read it because they think it is so thick that they will not be able to finish it in their lifetime ( Hsieh, 2021 ). However, these are perfectly achievable if they are divided into smaller goals after scientific analysis.

The game does such a good job of this. It is clear on the game that for everything you achieve, you will be rewarded accordingly and your efforts will be recognized. On the other hand, learning, has a great deal of uncertainty. Working very hard and not getting good results happens to almost everyone ( Bavelier et al., 2011 ). This puts a lot of people off, so they choose not to try to work hard, so if they succeed they will be complacent and think they are clever, and if they fail it won’t matter, after all they haven’t put much effort into it.


A known reward will motivate people, but unknown factors will really keep them going. A reward with appropriate uncertainty will be exciting, it will increase people’s dopamine production and fascinate people ( Gentile et al., 2004 ). We encounter same situation when we read a novel. But when listening to a lesson, this is simply not possible. If we could figure out how humans learn and what motivates people to act from the development of games, then apply it beyond games, the value it could create is immeasurable, and it would be a ground-breaking thing.

The Psychosocial Impact of Mobile Games

In fact, the psychosocial mechanisms behind playing games deserve more attention than academic performance. Often the decline in academic performance is the most easily observed, but the relationship between playing video games and soft aspects such as feelings of loneliness, loss, self-esteem, social anxiety and social skills is often overlooked. These commonly overlooked factors largely contribute to negative events that influence our perceptions of mobile games ( Han et al., 2009 ).

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory ( Figure 3 ), human needs are divided into five categories from low to high: physiological needs, security needs, social needs, respect needs, and self-actualization needs. When the lower level needs are satisfied, the next level needs will become the primary motivation ( Boyer, 2015 ; Li et al., 2021 ). So when we have satisfied the two basic needs of physiological needs and security needs, the pursuit of spirituality will rise to become the main conflict. So people who are not able to socialize properly have no way of satisfying their social needs and other higher needs, so for such people there is a greater need for a space to socialize and achieve things that are not possible in real life. ( Kowert et al., 2015 ) have found that people who have low self-esteem in real life, are lonely, lack social skills, and are less successful in real life tend to spend more time in video games ( Winter et al., 2016 ). In turn, playing video games further exacerbates gamers’ feelings of loneliness and increased dissatisfaction with life ( Kowert et al., 2015 ).

Figure 3. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory.

A successful mobile game is inevitably appealing because of the high sense of achievement that teenagers can feel in the game again. Imagine that people who are not respected in real life can be admired for their virtual achievements in the game, either through kryptonite (spending money to increase combat power) or through their skill in playing the game. Even if you don’t make it to the top of the leader boards, you can still find a presence in a variety of ways. Moreover, in online games, without the constraints of real identities and conditions, gamers can communicate more flexibly and with less embarrassment of being rejected due to real conditions, communication between people is easier and gamers can easily build closer relationships through various tasks ( Caplan et al., 2009 ).

These people who are dissatisfied with their real lives can find a sense of presence in the game in a variety of ways to escape their real-life dissatisfaction ( Figure 4 ). However, after being satisfied in the virtual world, when they return to their real life, the gap will be even greater, and this will deepen their dissatisfaction with their real life. In addition, it is important to note that excessive play can also cause distraction, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and psychological disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety in children ( Chan and Cheng, 2004 ; Bulduklu, 2017 ).

Figure 4. Addiction progress of mobile games and its different stages.

Anti-social Behavior Caused by Mobile Games

The content of many mobile games is full of fighting and killing, gunfire, wild and weird characters, mechanical and rough movements, absurd plot and fast rhythm, which have a serious negative impact on students’ moral and psychological health. Those students who are addicted to games are often not calm enough, restless, impulsive, indifferent to others, and more violent, bringing certain destabilizing factors to the campus, family and society. They are in reality, but their minds are in the online world, and they are prone to schizophrenia symptoms, and few children who are addicted to mobile games are psychologically healthy. Nowadays, anti-social behavior also brings much attention to mobile game study. Although video games have been designed and developed to entertain (or educate), it has to be admitted that many of them contain violent content. According to data from Children Now 2001, a non-profit organization concerned with children’s learning and development, as early as 15 years ago, 89% of all games contained violent content, and nearly half of them contained severe violence ( Bulduklu, 2017 ).

Researchers have found that excessive immersion in games with antisocial content (violence) can easily lead to addiction and that such games have a subtle effect on gamers: they lack empathy and are prone to destructive behavior in real life. In fact, for gamers, the violent stimuli provided by virtual worlds such as combat are not only a stress relief, but also a training exercise that allows them to become accustomed to such aggressive emotions and destructive behavior in games, which they gradually carry over into real life ( Huizenga et al., 2009 ).

In a study conducted in 2011, Anderson and Bushman surveyed over 4,000 gamers and found that violent games increased aggressive emotions and decreased pro-social behaviour. Both children and adults, men and women were deeply affected by this ( Foerster et al., 2019 ). This is not to say that violent play necessarily leads to violent behavior. However, when we are constantly trained to think about our enemies in games and reinforced to react quickly and aggressively to each other’s actions, we constantly rehearse this script in our minds and feel threatened all the time, which translates into real-life situations where we are also hostile to those around us and develop “hostile attribution bias” ( Venetz et al., 2014 ). For example, if Ming knocks over my cup, I will think that Ming thinks I am a bad person, that he is doing it on purpose, and that I have to beat him up to show him so that he would not do it again. But in reality, the aisle was too narrow and Ming was too fat and accidentally knocked it over. This attribution error is the “hostile attribution bias.”

It must be clear here that it is not the video game that causes the gamer’s antisocial behavior, but the violent content of the video game. It is pointless and even counterproductive to make a blanket statement. We should advocate for the regulation of the video game market and the development of sensible game content, rather than a blanket ban on all video games.

Further Actions May Take for Correct Guidance

The core educational value of mobile games.

Most scholars are studying how to make learning more interesting, so that students can learn by doing as what the mobile game does. This is the dream of our educational researchers, and Dewey’s emphasis on “learning by doing” does not seem to be working particularly well. In contrast, in a virtual environment we can learn by doing, which is similar to the real thing, improving students’ problem-solving skills, creativity and other higher-order skills, and helping to develop emotional and attitudinal values ( Villasana et al., 2020 ). This is why educational scholars are proposing to implement gamified learning, using educational games to achieve gamified learning. Gamified learning in a narrow sense generally refers to pure video games, while gamified learning in a broad sense includes game mechanics, game element design concepts, etc.

The core educational values of games are mainly acting on the aspects of psychology, socialization, and culture. With its effect on play motivation, playful thinking, and playfulness ( Figure 5 ), a good mobile game does need multiple aspects of knowledge, ability, emotions, attitudes and values ( Schwab, 2018 ). Play motivation is the most fundamental and operational value, emphasizing the use of play to motivate learning. Playful thinking suggests going beyond playful forms and emphasizes the design of non-playful learning activities as “games.” Playfulness is the most meaningful value emphasizing that learners approach the process and outcomes of learning with the same spirit and attitude as play. The core link between the three aspects is deep intrinsic motivation ( Škařupová et al., 2016 ). Getting people to do something because they are challenged and to be curious, rather than being pushed to do something every day by external rewards and pressures.

Figure 5. Core educational value of mobile games.

Gamification of Education/Educational Mobile Games

In the design of educational gamification, it is important to focus on an important issues: distinguishing the age group of the user. Gamification of education is more suitable for the K12 age group and should generally be in the form of simple games, with the degree of gamification decreasing with the age of the user increasing; there will be some adults over 18 who prefer educational products in the form of large-scale games such as online games, but this may be a niche market ( Abeele et al., 2017 ). A light game should be a balance between learning and gameplay, it is like a layer of ketchup in the middle of a hamburger, it can be a little less, but too much is definitely not. If the game is too complex, it will take away from the main focus, the child will appear to be learning but spend more time playing, and the level of emotional arousal will be too high, which is not the desired learning effect. Don’t design a product to be “revolutionary” right out of the box, ground it and then change it incrementally, although this is the opposite of what Google’s Page says ( Huijsmans, 2019 ).

This is because schooling is absolutely dominant in the educational lives of primary and secondary school children, and most of the people who deliver schooling—the teachers—have extremely difficult to change work habits and lack the motivation to change. There are many reasons for this, which will not be expanded. Therefore the initial product should ideally be close to the actual working habits of teachers, close to the teaching content of the school, find a real solution to certain high frequency needs of teachers in their daily work and cut in, so that they can first get started, develop trust and dependence, and then expand step by step, it will be more feasible. Educational products are not super viable just because they are gamified, and you can’t expect them to get a lot of users and get the desired conversion rate just because they are “happy learning” ( Schneider et al., 2020 ). It is always believed that educational products for primary and secondary schools should be a combination of online and offline. In addition to the online part of the product, it also needs to include an offline package for teachers and parents, including training, guidance, evaluation, consultation and follow-up, and so on. For example, how teachers use the product in the classroom, how they use it after school, or what they do to provide daily feedback to parents, are all parts of the product and need to be developed into an actionable solution, not optional. Otherwise, even the best design will be short-lived and will end up like a normal game after its life cycle. So, as well as the product team, the operations team is equally important ( Cha and Seo, 2018 ). While designing the gamification, don’t forget to build and polish the educational content itself, which is the main part of the “hamburger.” Entrepreneurs are often in a hurry to get their products to market quickly and can easily over-gamify them. But the lifeblood of an educational product is still the quality of education, and when the learning effect is not reflected, it will face the dilemma of further development.

Future Trends and Limitations in Educational Mobile Games

Future trends, from a technological perspective, combine gamified learning with mobile learning; with VR/AR; with intelligent bodies; with brain science; with artificial intelligence and big data ( Quelly et al., 2016 ; Black et al., 2018 ). If the research is to solve students’ learning problems through mobile games, it is necessary to combine various research results and educational results from game design. Experimental research in this area has been conducted and found it to be quite effective. Through this experiment, it is found that the difficulty in developing this type of game is decided by how it can really enhance their learning effectiveness ( Calpbinici and Tas Arslan, 2019 ).

Still, games are games, and still there are four major limitation for the current development of educational mobile games.:

• The first major limitation is portability, that is, how what is learned in a mobile game transfers to the real world, which exposes the Achilles heel of mobile games. The challenges in video games are often fictional and have no connection to everyday life, but are rather a fantasy. The knowledge and skills that K12 students acquire in games such as battling dragons, racing jousts, and Tetris are not meaningful to everyday life and therefore not directly transferable.

• The second major limitation is simplicity. Mobile games simplify complex systems to their core and are procedural representations of the real world. The world we live in is much more complex and often defies the simple logic of the game. This results in learners often losing touch with the systems modeled in the game.

• The third major limitation is that games lack real-life environments. Mobile games are not designed to have an effect on the gamer after the game is over. The K12 students are too different from the world they live in, and the real world is too complex. Even those games that have a realistic purpose, so-called serious games or educational games, mostly fail in their transfer from the game to the real world. This is good news for those who fear that violent games make people violent, and bad news for those who think that smart games automatically make people smart.

• The fourth major limitation relates to the above question about the environment. K12 students are usually unable to spontaneously establish a relationship between what they learn in mobile games and real life. They can grasp a great deal of information in mobile games and remember it over time, but are unable to recall the simplest historical data in the classroom. The link between learning achievements in games and in the real world is often overlooked by many K12 students and teachers.

Games open the door to the transfer of learning experiences, but K12 students must go through this door themselves. For that matter, the role of teaching behavior in the use of mobile games is clearly underestimated. Learners need constructive support to draw outcomes relevant to their own learning from a rewarding play space. There may not be a fundamental difference in the traditional sense of learning, but there is a difference in the logical growth and understanding of games ( Rahim et al., 2020 ). Besides, the illusory nature of the mobile gaming experience makes the transfer of results very difficult. In response, external forces are needed to drive attention toward the potential and the knowledge learned. Teachers can and should use this meta-perspective to promote the pedagogical potential of play. The content of the learning outcomes, the enhancement of skills and knowledge, should be explored together with the K12 students. A bridge between the virtual and real worlds is built when all these gamers take note of the content and learning outcomes in question. The questions that need to be answered on the teaching side are which real-world environments can apply what is learned in the game and which aspects of the game are worth learning from. And gamers, the K12 students, should be motivated to notice this connection and to test what they have learned in their everyday lives ( Kyriakou and Glentis, 2021 ).

This paper summarizes the technological development of mobile games from the aspects of hardware and software. A neutral perspective is given to analyze the psychological and social problems that mobile games have brought to K12 students. At the end of the paper, the insights of the future development of educational games and current limitations of mobile games are also addressed. The major task for the development is to reflect on the content of the mobile game, which is not directly accessible. It is difficult to examine what is learned with a critical eye during play and must therefore be stimulated externally. The act of teaching and learning enables knowledge and skills transfer if the teacher has the ability to build bridges between the virtual and real worlds. Radically speaking, it is only through pedagogical support that the barriers to knowledge transfer in gamified learning can be overcome and the potential for learning unlocked. This new pedagogical role requires the teacher’s own interest, as well as active access to the space of gamified learning. This area deserves to be explored and experimented with and will present teachers with new pedagogical challenges.

Author Contributions

YL designed the guideline of the articles. JL contributed to the drafting of material for individual section. ZX and YH compiled the writing and conducted the analysis. YH and PX aligned the manuscript. YL and JL reviewed and provided corrections on the original draft. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

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Keywords : psychosocial impacts, mobile game, K12 student, future development, educational mobile games

Citation: Li Y, Xu Z, Hao Y, Xiao P and Liu J (2022) Psychosocial Impacts of Mobile Game on K12 Students and Trend Exploration for Future Educational Mobile Games. Front. Educ. 7:843090. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2022.843090

Received: 24 December 2021; Accepted: 17 February 2022; Published: 29 April 2022.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2022 Li, Xu, Hao, Xiao and Liu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Yuanzhe Li, [email protected]

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The aim of this research is to establish a preliminary assessment of the time usage by students from private higher education institutions to play mobile games per day. A qualitative method was adopted for this research using document analysis from four programmes namely Diploma in Multimedia, Diploma in Management with Multimedia, Diploma in Animation and Diploma in Game Design. The numerical data collection was converted from the document. In addition, the data obtained were analysed using descriptive statistical techniques. The research findings revealed that the average time usage by students from Diploma in Multimedia programme to play mobile games was 1.86 hours per day. For students from Diploma in Management with Multimedia programme, the average time usage was 2.07 hours per day. While students from the Diploma in Animation programme used 1.71 hours per day to play mobile games. Overall. the highest score mean was 3.57 hours per day used by students from the Diploma in Game Design programme.

Ammar Ihsan Nasution

There are many factors that correlated with students' academic performance. Some people believe that video game is one of the factors that affect students’ academic performance negatively. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between video games and student academic performance among male and female students of IIUM. A questionnaire was used to collect data about students' gaming frequency and students' academic performance. 30 students were selected randomly from each kulliyyah as the sample of the study. The result of the research indicated that there is no relationship between video games and students’ academic performance of IIUM University. From this findings, it can be concluded that being non-gamer does not guarantee a student to have high academic performance. In contrast, being frequent gamer also does not guarantee student to perform bad in academic. There are many factors that correlated with academic performance other than video games

Jambura Economic Education Journal

Ismail Lahay

The objective of this research was to findout the effect of online gaming habits on student,s learning outcomes in class X of social sciences in economics subject at SMA Negeri 1 Tapa, Bone Bolango Regency, It employed a quantitative method with a sample of 66 students. At the sama time, the data analysis used in this research was a simple linear regression analysis assisted by IBM Statistics SPSS 26.0 program. The research findings signified that the variable of online gaming habits partially had a negatif and significant effect on students’ learning outcomes in class X of social Sciences at SMA Negeri 1 Tapa, the results of this research obtainet a coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.169, meaning that the effect of online gaming habbits variabel on students’ learning outcomes at SMA Negeri 1 Tapa was 16.9%. in contrast, the remaining 83.1% was affected by other variables that contribute to students’ learning outcomes at SMA Negeri 1 Tapa, which were not examinet in this research.


Revista Prâksis

arXiv: Methodology

Guanghua Lian

Bailey Hannon

Raj Kaushal

Rosestela Perera

Musica antiqua, 1, Junio-1986, pp. 23-29.

Cyril Feidt

New Journal of Chemistry

Melina Kalagasidis Krusic

Language Policy

Heiko Marten

VII International Symposium on Plant Growth Regulators in Fruit Production

Roberto Jona

American Journal of Ophthalmology

The IUPAC Compendium of Chemical Terminology

Dewi Sartika Wati

Marketing Science

Mushfiq Mobarak

Nature Genetics

Yiping Rong

Luciano Bernardo

Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical

Shota Komatsu

Tetrahedron Letters

Stephen Herchen

Experimental and Applied Acarology

Rainer Oehme

agung nugraha

Sumalee Hantragool

The ANZTLA ejournal

Clinical Infectious Diseases

Saiful Islam

Jorge Morales

Amanda Marie Pearson


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Teens and Video Games Today

85% of u.s. teens say they play video games, and about four-in-ten do so daily. teens see both positive and negative sides of video games – from problem-solving and making friends to harassment and sleep loss, table of contents.

  • Who plays video games?
  • How often do teens play video games?
  • What devices do teens play video games on?
  • Social media use among gamers
  • Teen views on how much they play video games and efforts to cut back
  • Are teens social with others through video games?
  • Do teens think video games positively or negatively impact their lives?
  • Why do teens play video games?
  • Bullying and violence in video games
  • Appendix A: Detailed charts
  • Acknowledgments
  • Methodology

An image of teens competing in a video game tournament at the Portland Public Library in Maine in 2018. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to better understand teens’ use of and experiences with video games.

The Center conducted an online survey of 1,453 U.S. teens from Sept. 26 to Oct. 23, 2023, through Ipsos. Ipsos recruited the teens via their parents, who were part of its KnowledgePanel . The KnowledgePanel is a probability-based web panel recruited primarily through national, random sampling of residential addresses. The survey was weighted to be representative of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 who live with their parents by age, gender, race and ethnicity, household income, and other categories.

This research was reviewed and approved by an external institutional review board (IRB), Advarra, an independent committee of experts specializing in helping to protect the rights of research participants.

Here are the questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and  its methodology .

There are long-standing debates about the impact of video games on youth. Some credit them for helping young people form friendships and teaching them about teamwork and problem-solving . Others say video games expose teenagers to violent content, negatively impact their sleep and can even lead to addiction.

With this in mind, Pew Research Center surveyed 1,423 U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 about their own video game habits – from how often they play to the friends they’ve made and whether it gets in the way of them doing well in school or getting a good night’s sleep. 1

Key findings from the survey

  • Video games as a part of daily teen life: 85% of U.S. teens report playing video games, and 41% say they play them at least once a day. Four-in-ten identify as a gamer.
  • Gaming as a social experience: 72% of teens who play video games say that a reason why they play them is to spend time with others. And some have even made a friend online from playing them – 47% of teen video game players say they’ve done this.
  • Helpful with problem-solving, less so for sleep: Over half of teens who play video games say it has helped their problem-solving skills, but 41% also say it has hurt their sleep.
  • Bullying is a problem: 80% of all teens think harassment over video games is a problem for people their age. And 41% of those who play them say they’ve been called an offensive name when playing.
  • Boys’ and girls’ experiences differ: Most teen boys and girls play video games, but larger shares of boys identify as gamers (62% vs. 17%) and play every day (61% vs. 22%). Boys who play them are also more likely to experience positive things from it, like making friends, and more troubling things like harassment.

Jump to read about: Who plays video games | Socializing over video games | Views about video games’ impact | Harassment and violence in video games      

A bar chart showing that 85% of teens play video games, and 4 in 10 identify as gamers

Playing video games is widespread among teens. The vast majority of U.S. teens (85%) say they play them. Just 15% say they never do, according to the survey conducted Sept. 26-Oct. 23, 2023.

In addition to asking whether teens play video games, we also wanted to learn whether they consider themselves gamers. Overall, four-in-ten U.S. teens think of themselves as gamers. Just under half of teens (45%) play video games but do not think of themselves as gamers.

A bar chart showing that Most teen boys and girls play video games, but boys are far more likely to identify as gamers

Nearly all boys (97%) say they play video games, compared with about three-quarters of teen girls. There is a substantial gap by gender in whether teens identify as gamers: 62% of teen boys do, compared with 17% of girls. 2

By gender and age

Younger teen girls are more likely than older girls to say they play video games: 81% of girls ages 13 to 14 compared with 67% of those ages 15 to 17. But among boys, nearly all play video games regardless of age. 

Similar shares of teens play video games across different racial and ethnic groups and among those who live in households with different annual incomes. Go to Appendix A for more detail on which teens play video games and which teens identify as gamers.

A flow chart showing How we asked teens in our survey if they play video games and identify as gamers by first asking who plays video games and then who identifies as a gamer

We also asked teens how often they play video games. About four-in-ten U.S. teens say they play video games daily, including 23% who do so several times a day.

A bar chart showing that About 6 in 10 teen boys play video games daily

Another 22% say they play several times a week, while 21% play them about once a week or less.

Teen boys are far more likely than girls to say they play video games daily (61% vs. 22%). They are also much more likely to say they play them several times a day (36% vs. 11%).

By whether someone identifies as a gamer

About seven-in-ten teens who identify as gamers (71%) say they play video games daily. This drops to 30% among those who play them but aren’t gamers.

By household income

Roughly half of teens living in households with an annual income of less than $30,000 (53%) say they play video games at least daily. This is higher than those in households with an annual income of $30,000 to $74,999 (42%) and $75,000 or more (39%).

Go to Appendix A to see more details about who plays video games and identifies as a gamer by gender, age, race and ethnicity, and household income.

A bar chart showing that Most teens play video games on a console or smartphone, 24% do so on a virtual reality headset

Most teens play video games on a gaming console or a smartphone. When asked about five devices, most teens report playing video games on a gaming console (73%), such as PlayStation, Switch or Xbox. And 70% do so on a smartphone. Fewer – though still sizable shares – play them on each of the following:

  • 49% say they play them on a desktop or laptop computer
  • 33% do so on a tablet  
  • 24% play them on a virtual reality (VR) headset such as Oculus, Meta Quest or PlayStation VR

Many teens play video games on multiple devices. About a quarter of teens (27%) do so on at least four of the five devices asked about, and about half (49%) play on two or three of them. Just 8% play video games on one device.

A dot plot showing that Teen boys are more likely than girls to play video games on all devices except tablets

Teen boys are more likely than girls to play video games on four of the five devices asked about – all expect tablets. For instance, roughly nine-in-ten teen boys say they ever play video games on a gaming console, compared with 57% of girls. Equal shares of teen boys and girls play them on tablets.  

Teens who consider themselves gamers are more likely than those who play video games but aren’t gamers to play on a gaming console (95% vs. 78%), desktop or laptop computer (72% vs. 45%) or a virtual reality (VR) headset (39% vs. 19%). Similar shares of both groups play them on smartphones and tablets.

A dot plot showing that Teen gamers are far more likely to use Discord and Twitch than other teens

One way that teens engage with others about video games is through online platforms. And our survey findings show that teen gamers stand out for their use of two online platforms that are known for their gaming communities – Discord and Twitch :

  • 44% of teen gamers say they use Discord, far higher than video game players who don’t identify as gamers or those who use the platform but do not play video games at all. About three-in-ten teens overall (28%) use Discord.
  • 30% of teens gamers say they use Twitch. About one-in-ten other teens or fewer say the same; 17% of teens overall use the platform.

Previous Center research shows that U.S. teens use online platforms at high rates .

A bar chart showing that Teens most commonly say they spend the right amount of time playing video games

Teens largely say they spend the right amount of time playing video games. When asked about how much time they spend playing them, the largest share of teens (58%) say they spend the right amount of time. Far fewer feel they spend too much (14%) or too little (13%) time playing them.

Teen boys are more likely than girls to say they spend too much time playing video games (22% vs. 6%).

By race and ethnicity

Black (17%) and Hispanic (18%) teens are about twice as likely than White teens (8%) to say they spend too little time playing video games. 3

A quarter of teens who consider themselves gamers say they spend too much time playing video games, compared with 9% of those who play video games but don’t identify as gamers. Teen gamers are also less likely to think they spend too little time playing them (19% vs. 10%).

A bar chart showing that About 4 in 10 teens have cut back on how much they play video games

Fewer than half of teens have reduced how much they play video games. About four-in-ten (38%) say they have ever chosen to cut back on the amount of time they spend playing them. A majority (61%) report that they have not cut back at all.

This share is on par with findings about whether teenagers have cut back with their screen time – on social media or their smartphone.

Although boys are more likely to say they play video games too much, boys and girls are on par for whether they have ever cut back. About four-in-ten teen boys (39%) and girls (38%) say that they have ever cut back.

And gamers are as likely to say they have cut back as those who play video games but don’t identify as gamers (39% and 41%).

A chart showing that 89% of teens who play video games do so with others; about half or 47% made a friend through them

A main goal of our survey was to ask teens about their own experiences playing video games. For this section of the report, we focus on teens who say they play video games.

Socializing with others is a key part of the video game experience. Most teens who play video games do so with others, and some have developed friendships through them.

About nine-in-ten teen video game players (89%) say they play them with other people, in person or online. Far fewer (11%) play them only on their own.

Additionally, about half (47%) report that they have ever made a friend online because of a video game they both play. This equals 40% of all U.S. teens who have made a friend online because of a video game.

These experiences vary by:  

A bar chart showing that Teen boys who play video games are more likely than girls to make friends over video games

  • Gender: Most teen boy and girl video game players play them with others, though it’s more common among boys (94% vs. 82%). Boys who play video games are much more likely to say they have made a friend online because of a video game (56% vs. 35%).
  • Race and ethnicity: Black (55%) and Hispanic (53%) teen video game players are more likely than White teen video game players (43%) to say they have made a friend online because of them.
  • Whether someone identifies as a gamer: Nearly all teen gamers report playing video games with others (98%). Fewer – though still most – of those who play video games but aren’t gamers (81%) also play them with others. And about seven-in-ten (68%) say they have made a friend online because of a video game, compared with 29% of those who play them but don’t identify as gamers.

A bar chart showing that More than half of teens who play video games say it helps their problem-solving skills, but many say it negatively impacts the amount of sleep they get

Teens who play video games are particularly likely to say video games help their problem-solving skills. More than half of teens who play video games (56%) say this.

Additionally, more think that video games help, rather than hurt, three other parts of their lives that the survey asked about. Among teens who play video games:

  • Roughly half (47%) say it has helped their friendships
  • 41% say it has helped how they work with others
  • 32% say it has helped their mental health

No more than 7% say playing video games has hurt any of these.

More teens who play video games say it hurts, rather than helps, their sleep. Among these teens, 41% say it has hurt how much sleep they get, while just 5% say it helps. And small shares say playing video games has impacted how well they do in school in either a positive or a negative way.

Still, many teens who play video games think playing them doesn’t have much an impact in any of these areas. For instance, at least six-in-ten teens who play video games say it has neither a positive nor a negative impact on their mental health (60%) or their school performance (72%). Fewer (41%) say this of their problem-solving skills.

A dot plot showing that Boys who play video games are more likely than girls to think it helps friendships, problem-solving, ability to work with others

Teen boys who play video games are more likely than girls to think playing them has helped their problem-solving skills, friendships and ability to work with others. For instance, 55% of teen boys who play video games say this has helped their friendships, compared with 35% of teen girls.

As for ways that it may hurt their lives, boys who play them are more likely than girls to say that it has hurt the amount of sleep they get (45% vs. 37%) and how well they do in school (21% vs. 11%). 

Teens who consider themselves gamers are more likely than those who aren’t gamers but play video games to say video games have helped their friendships (60% vs. 35%), ability to work with others (52% vs. 32%), problem-solving skills (66% vs. 47%) and mental health (41% vs. 24%).

Gamers, though, are somewhat more likely to say playing them hurt their sleep (48% vs. 36%) and how well they do in school (20% vs. 14%).

By whether teens play too much, too little or the right amount

Teens who report playing video games too much stand out for thinking video games have hurt their sleep and school performance. Two-thirds of these teens say it has hurt the amount of sleep they get, and 39% say it hurt their schoolwork. Far fewer of those who say they play the right amount (38%) or too little (32%) say it has hurt their sleep, or say it hurt their schoolwork (12% and 16%).

A bar chart showing that Most common reason teens play video games is entertainment

Teens who play video games say they largely do so to be entertained. And many also play them to be social with and interact with others. Teens who play video games were asked about four reasons why they play video games. Among those who play video games:

  • Nearly all say fun or entertainment is a major or minor reason why they play video games – with a large majority (87%) saying it’s a major reason.
  • Roughly three-quarters say spending time with others is a reason, and two-thirds say this of competing with others. Roughly three-in-ten say each is a major reason.
  • Fewer – 50% – see learning something as a reason, with just 13% saying it’s a major reason.

While entertainment is by far the most common reason given by teens who play video games, differences emerge across groups in why they play video games.

A bar chart showing that Teen gamers are especially likely to say spending time and competing with others are reasons why they play

Teens who identify as gamers are particularly likely to say each is major reason, especially when it comes to competing against others. About four-in-ten gamers (43%) say this is a major reason, compared with 13% of those who play video games but aren’t gamers.

Teen boys who play video games are more likely than girls to say competing (36% vs. 15%), spending time with others (36% vs. 27%) and entertainment (90% vs. 83%) are major reasons they play video games.

Black and Hispanic teens who play video games are more likely than White teens to say that learning new things and competing against others are major reasons they play them. For instance, 29% of Black teen video game players say learning something new is a major reason, higher than 17% of Hispanic teen video game players. Both are higher than the 7% of White teen video game players who say the same.

Teens who play video games and live in lower-income households are especially likely to say competing against others and learning new things are major reasons. For instance, four-in-ten teen video game players who live in households with an annual income of less than $30,000 say competing against others is a major reason they play. This is higher than among those in households with annual incomes of $30,000 to $74,999 (29%) and $75,000 or more (23%).

Cyberbullying can happen in many online environments, but many teens encounter this in the video game world.

Our survey finds that name-calling is a relatively common feature of video game life – especially for boys. Roughly four-in-ten teen video game players (43%) say they have been harassed or bullied while playing a video game in one of three ways: 

A bar chart showing that About half of teen boys who play video games say they have been called an offensive name while playing

  • 41% have been called an offensive name
  • 12% have been physically threatened
  • 8% have been sent unwanted sexually explicit things

Teen boys are particularly likely to say they have been called an offensive name. About half of teen boys who play video games (48%) say this has happened while playing them, compared with about a third of girls (32%). And they are somewhat more likely than girls to have been physically threatened (15% vs. 9%).

Teen gamers are more likely than those who play video games but aren’t gamers to say they been called and offensive name (53% vs. 30%), been physically threatened (17% vs. 8%) and sent unwanted sexually explicit things (10% vs. 6%).

A pie chart showing that Most teens say that bullying while playing video games is a problem for people their age

Teens – regardless of whether they’ve had these experiences – think bullying is a problem in gaming. Eight-in-ten U.S. teens say that when it comes to video games, harassment and bullying is a problem for people their age. This includes 29% who say it is a major problem.

It’s common for teens to think harassment while playing video games is a problem, but girls are somewhat more likely than boys to say it’s a major problem (33% vs. 25%).

There have also been decades-long debates about how violent video games can influence youth behavior , if at all – such as by encouraging or desensitizing them to violence. We wanted to get a sense of how commonly violence shows up in the video games teens are playing.

A bar chart showing that About 7 in 10 teen boys who play video games say there is violence in at least some of the games they play

Just over half of teens who play video games (56%) say at least some of the games they play contain violence. This includes 16% who say it’s in all or most of the games they play.

Teen boys who play video games are far more likely than girls to say that at least some of the games they play contain violence (69% vs. 37%).

About three-quarters of teen gamers (73%) say that at least some of the games they play contain violence, compared with 40% among video game players who aren’t gamers.   

  • Throughout this report, “teens” refers to those ages 13 to 17. ↩
  • Previous Center research of U.S. adults shows that men are more likely than women to identify as gamers – especially the youngest adults. ↩
  • There were not enough Asian American respondents in the sample to be broken out into a separate analysis. As always, their responses are incorporated into the general population figures throughout the report. ↩

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