Teenagers who frequently play computer games are less likely to get into university, according to a recent study by Oxford University. Interestingly, the activity does not reduce the likelihood that a 16-year-old would be in a professional or managerial job at 33.
The study found that that reading enhances the likelihood that teenagers will go to study for a degree. After surveying 17,000 people born in 1970, the results showed that 16-year-olds who read books at least once a month were significantly more likely to be in a professional or managerial job at 33 than those who didn't read books at all. While reading helped people into a more prestigious career, it did not bring them a higher salary. In fact, none of the extra-curricular activities at 16 were associated with a greater or lesser income.
Girls had a 39 percent probability of being in a professional or managerial position at 33 if they read at 16, compared to 25 percent if they avoided picking up a book. Boys had a 58 percent chance of being in a good job as an adult if they had read as a teenager, compared to a 48 percent chance if they had not.
Once they started playing computer games regularly, however, the chances of going to university fell from 24 per cent to 19 percent for boys and from 20 percent to 14 percent for girls, assuming they did no other activities. Mark Taylor, of Nuffield College, Oxford carried out the research and suggested that other extra-curricular activities might prove more beneficial than computer games because they were either communal, like playing in an orchestra, or had a direct academic application, like reading. That being said, he acknowledged that the gaming industry has changed significantly over the last 40 years.
Nevertheless, Taylor said that results showed there was "something special" about reading for pleasure. Even after accounting for class, ability, and the type of school a child attended, reading still made a difference. "It's no surprise that kids who went to the theatre when young get better jobs," Taylor said in a statement. "That's because their parents were rich. When you take these things into account, the effect that persists is for reading." Books are cheap for everyone.