Zhang Y, Zhang D, Wang Y, Yanhui Ban S, Zhao K, Cui A, Wang Y, Harris J. Effects of electronics and video games on students’ academic performance: A survey in Irvine areas. HPHR. 2023;72. https://www.doi.org/10.54111/0001/TTT4
In recent years, the proliferation of electronic devices and video games has raised strong concerns about their impact on students’ academic performance. The widespread formal application of virtual technologies in school teaching during the COVID-19 outbreak had a long-term impact on some students and their families. The aim of this research is to investigate the impact of electronic devices and video games on students (grades 4-12) within the Irvine area in Orange County. It explores the students’ patterns of use, their self-perceptions of how these technologies affect their academic performance, and the role of virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Modern electronic devices are ubiquitous and video games are everywhere. These technologies have become an integral part of students’ lives, raising questions about their impact on academic performance.2,3 Some research has shown that the use of electronic devices for educational purposes can improve students’ academic performance17, but others have shown that excessive screen time unrelated to learning activities is strongly associated with the decreased academic performance.9 Similarly, the effects of video games are multifaceted. While some studies have shown that video games can improve cognitive skills5, excessive gaming has been linked with reduced study time as well as decreased academic performance.10
An online questionnaire was administered to students in grades four through twelve. The aim of this study is to examine school students’ self-perceptions of the impact of electronics and video games on their academic performance and activities, and the role of virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to combine the general effects of electronics with the reflections on virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, to draw clearer conclusions about the positive and negative effects of electronics and video games on school students.
Through paper forms and social media such as Instagram, all student boards members of the We-Together Foundation sent out invitations and consent forms to their classmates, the students in private tutoring centers, and the school club members in Orange County, mainly in Irvine area. In total, more than 900 invitations were sent. A total of 254 consent forms were received. From the 254 students, a random sample of 54 students from grades 4 through 12 was surveyed (24% from grades 4-6, 30% from grades 7-8 and 46% from grades 9-12). The online survey was conducted through Typeform.com. The survey was completed independently by the students themselves to ensure anonymity and authenticity of responses. The students’ personal information (email, name, phone number) was removed from the excel file prior to statistical analysis. The online survey included 15 questions, covering the topics including gender, the daily use of electronic devices, the perceptions of the impact of electronics, virtual learning experiences, video gaming habits, gaming-induced behavioral changes, and the broader impact of electronics on various aspects of students’ life.
Descriptive statistics were used for statistical analysis and the results are presented as percentages for all questions. Typeform.com analysis tool was applied initially to obtain survey data, and Microsoft Excel was used to further analyze the data.
Ethical approval for this study was obtained from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of We-Together Foundation. The study followed the principles of informed consent, privacy protection, harm minimization, debriefing, and appropriate data handling.
Table 1. Survey questions 1-3: gender, average daily hours on digital devices, and general impact on academic performance.
1. Your gender
Prefer not to say
2. On average, how many hours do you spend using digital devices (e.g., computers, smartphones, tablets) each day for NON-Academic purposes?
More than 4 hours
Less than 1 hour
3. How do you perceive the impact of electronics on your academic studies?
No significant impact
The “Question” column specifies the question number, the “Response” column provides the response options, and the “Percentage” column indicates the corresponding percentage of respondents for each response option.
Table 1 shows the gender of the respondents, the average number of hours spent on digital devices per day for non-academic purposes, and the overall perceived impact on academic performance. Most of the respondents were male students (50.9%), followed by female (41.5%); a small percentage of respondents did not want to disclose their gender (5.7%) or identified themselves as non-binary (1.9%). The amount of time the respondents spends on digital devices for non-academic purposes each day is diversified: the most common response was 3-4 hours, with 37.7% of respondents falling into this category; a significant percentage of respondents (24.5%) selected 1-2 hours, and 22.6% of the respondents use digital devices for more than 4 hours per day for non-academic activities. A smaller proportion of respondents (15.1%) used digital devices for less than one hour.
The survey revealed a diverse range of perceptions among students on the impact of electronic devices on their learning. Approximately 34% of the respondents felt that electronic devices had a positive impact (Table 1), citing increased access to educational resources as a significant benefit (Table 5). On the contrary, 24.5% of the respondents believed that electronic devices had a negative impact. A substantial 22.6% of the respondents reported no significant impact, while 18.9% of the respondents expressed uncertainty regarding the impact of electronics on their academic performance.
Table 4. Survey questions 9-13: the impact of electronics on various aspects of the respondents’ lives.
9. Study Habits
No significant change
10. Participation in extracurricular activities
11. Psychological well-being
12. Academic performance (grades)
13. Relationships with peers and family
No significant change
The impact of electronics on various aspects of the respondents’ lives is reported in Table 4, including their study habits, participation in extracurricular activities, psychological well-being, academic performance, and their relationships with peers and family. The survey results indicated that the impact of e-technology goes beyond academics and affects many aspects of the students’ lives.
The impact of electronics on study habits was diverse. 45.3% of the respondents reported no significant changes, while 32.1% reported a decline in their study habits. A notable 22.6% of the respondents confirmed improved study habits.
As for the impact on participation in extracurricular activities, 62.3% of the respondents felt that electronics had no significant impact on their participation in extracurricular activities. However, 20.8% of students reported a decrease in participation in extracurricular activities, while 17% reported an increased participation in extracurricular activities (Table 5).
A significant percentage (62.3%) of the respondents believed that electronics had no significant impact on their psychological well-being. In contrast, 22.6% of the respondents reported improved psychological well-being, citing enhanced social connections through digital communication (table 5). A smaller group (15.1% of the respondents) reported a decline in psychological well-being.
Concerning the impact on academic performance (grades), the majority (69.8%) of the respondents maintained their grades while using electronics. However, 20.8% of the respondents reported a decline, which was often attributed to distractions (Table 5). A smaller percentage (9.4%) of the respondents saw an improvement in their grades (Table 5).
The influence of electronics on students’ relationships with peers and family was also reported in Table 4. A substantial portion of students (60.4%) felt that electronics had no significant impact on their relationships with peers and family. Conversely, 26.4% of the respondents reported improved relationships, often due to the increased digital communication (Table 5). A smaller group (13.2% of the respondents) reported a decline in their relationships.
Table 5. Survey questions 14-15: the specific concerns (or troubles) and opportunities (or positive aspects) associated with electronics use. Multiple options can be selected.
14. Are there specific CONCERNS or TROUBLES related to electronics use that you have faced? Please select any that apply.
Distraction from academic responsibilities
Increased screen time affecting health
Decreased physical activity
Negative impact on social interactions
15. Do you believe there are OPPORTUNITIES or POSITIVE ASPECTS associated with electronics use that should be highlighted to improve student well-being and academic success? Please select any that apply.
Enhanced access to educational resources
Improved communication with peers and teachers
Development of digital skills
In addition, the survey identified both the concerns (or troubles) and the opportunities (or positive aspects) related to electronics use (Table 5). In terms of the concerns or troubles related to electronics use, more than half of the respondents (53.8%) identified academic distractions as a significant problem. Meanwhile, half of the respondents (50%) expressed concern that the increased screen time could have a negative impact on health. A significant percentage of respondents (40.4%) believed that the use of electronic devices may lead to a decrease in physical activity. 23.1% of respondents were concerned that electronic devices may have a negative impact on their socialization. There is still a significant percentage of respondents (15.4%) who mentioned other issues not included in the options (Table 5).
As for the opportunities or positive aspects associated with the use of electronics, 71.7% of students perceived electronics to be positive in terms of providing more educational resources. More than half of the students (60.4%) considered that electronics played a positive role in enhancing communication with their classmates and teachers. More than half of the respondents (54.7%) felt that electronics played a positive role in developing their digital skills. A few respondents (7.5%) mentioned other positive aspects not covered by the listed options.
Table 2. Survey questions 4-5: the impact of virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Did you experience virtual learning (online classes) during the COVID-19 pandemic?
5. If you experienced virtual learning during the pandemic, please select the option that best describes the impact on your education.
Negatively affected my learning experience
Had no significant impact on my education
Positively affected some aspects, negatively affected others
Improved my learning experience
Impact of virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic was studied and the results are presented in Table 2. 94.3% of the participants experienced virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those students, 50% of the respondents reported that virtual learning negatively impacted their learning experience. Conversely, 26.9% of students felt that virtual learning had no significant impact on their education, while 15.4% of them believed that virtual learning had both positive and negative impacts. Only a smaller percentage of students (7.7%) felt that virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic improved their overall educational experience.
Table 3. Survey questions 6-8: video game usage, the average time spent playing video games, and the observed changes in behavior after playing video games.
6. Do you play video games?
7. If yes, please select the option that best represents the average number of hours you spend playing video games EACH WEEK.
Less than 1 hour
More than 6 hours
8. Have you noticed any changes in your behavior after playing video games?
No significant changes
Yes, positive changes (Please describe briefly)
Yes, negative changes
Video game habits and their impact on the students’ behavior changes are reported in Table 3. The survey indicated that a substantial percentage (66%) of the participants engage in video gaming, while 34% of the participants do not play video games. It indicates that video gaming is a common activity among the survey participants (Table 3). For those who play video games, the majority (40.5%) spend 1-3 hours per week playing video games; a significant portion (31%) of the respondents spends less than 1 hour per week, indicating a lighter gaming schedule; some respondents (16.7%) spend 4-6 hours per week playing video games, and a smaller percentage (11.9%) of the respondents spend more than 6 hours weekly on video games.
The reaction of the respondents to behavioral changes after playing video games were mixed. Table 3 shows that half of the participants (50%) reported no noticeable changes, while 18.8% of the respondents reported experiencing positive changes. Another 16.7% of the respondents admitted to negative changes. A minority (14.6%) of the students indicated that this question did not apply to them.
The diverse range of the students’ self-perceptions on the impact of electronics on their academic performance reflects the complexity of the issue. The students’ perceptions are influenced by their personal experiences and preferences.1 The students who perceive a positive impact typically emphasize the benefits of increased access to educational resources (Table 5).2 In contrast, the students who perceive a negative impact typically cite distractions and reduced study time (Table 5)9, highlighting the need for a nuanced approach to understanding the relationship between electronics and academic performance.6
The response to the impact of virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic is mixed, but more than 50% felt that they were not able to derive sufficient benefit from virtual education (Table 2); overall, their impression of virtual education during the COVID-19 pandemic was negative, which is consistent with the challenges faced by educational institutions globally2,6, because virtual education often prevents students from having an effective learning experience due to the lack of human interaction, the technological barriers, and the issues related to engagement and motivation.7 While virtual learning offers flexibility and opportunities for the development of digital skills11, it also poses challenges related to gaming addiction, screen fatigue, technological issues, and social isolation.8 The negative impacts reported by some students emphasize the importance of effective online pedagogy and classroom supervision, as well as the need to address the digital divide to ensure equitable educational opportunities.19
The effects of video games on students’ behavior and academic performance show individual differences, which is consistent with previous research.3,4 The diversity of the responses indicates the need to consider individual differences in studying gaming habits and their impact (Table 3).18 Video games can lead to positive changes (Table 3), which is consistent with the research emphasizing cognitive benefits.5 On the other hand, video games can also lead to negative changes, including the increased irritability, fragment thinking, and difficulty focusing, which in turn reflects the fact that excessive gaming is a concern and needs to be controlled.10
The impact of electronics on study habits, extracurricular activities, mental health, academic performance, and interpersonal relationships is multifaceted (Table 4). Except for study habits, more than 60% of the students reported no significant change or maintained their status in all other aspects. Study habits were the most affected, with only 45.3% of the participants selecting “no significant change”. Some students reported improved study habits and academic performance due to easier access to digital resources (Table 5), while others faced distraction and reduced physical activity (Table 5).16 Additionally, the impact of electronics on students’ relationships varied, with some experiencing improved communication and others reporting a decrease in their relationships with peers and family (Table 4).14 These findings underscore the importance of balancing the use of electronics and digital literacy to maximize the benefits and minimize the drawbacks.14
The concerns (or troubles) related to electronics use, such as distraction and increased screen time affecting health, coincide with previous research.16 Addressing these concerns requires proactive strategies, close collaboration between parents and teachers, and the use of flexible strategies for different individuals to achieve the goal of responsible device use.12 On the other hand, recognizing opportunities such as easier access to educational resources and improved communication also highlights the potential benefits of integrating technology into education (Table 5).6 Utilizing these opportunities can improve student well-being and academic success. Therefore, it is important to adopt a reasonable and balanced view to electronic devices.
The limitation of this study is that it did not explore the underlying causes of the response to each question. Given that the survey’s primary focus was to investigate the students’ self-perceptions, we designed the survey to be brief, taking only 5-10 minutes to complete, to ensure that students would remain engaged. In the conclusion section, we discuss the next steps for deepening this study by delving into the intrinsic reasons behind each survey question. For instance, for the question “The impact of electronic devices on study habits,” we intend to break it down into more sub-questions to gain a better understanding of why students reported no significant change, positive impact, or negative impact.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the true extent and diversity of the impact of electronics on students’ academic performance from students’ self-perception, to address the important and challenging question of how to use electronics and video games wisely; the role of virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic was also studied. Our findings highlight the multifaceted nature of the impact of electronics and video games on students’ academic performance.10,17 Some students perceive positive effects17, while others perceive negative consequences.10 During the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of virtual learning was mixed, but more than half of the students reacted negatively and reported challenges in their virtual study (Table 2).
Clearly, the impact of electronics and video games on students is multifaceted and varies from person to person.18 To support students’ physical and mental health and academic success, it is essential for educational institutions to consider these research findings when formulating policies and strategies, to balance the pros and cons of e-technology use. It is important to adopt sound teaching and learning strategies, rather than a one-size-fits-all arbitrary approach.6,11 Further research and ongoing communication with students are essential to address the evolving challenges and opportunities of the digital age.11,15 As a next step, we will expand the breadth and depth of the survey to include parents and teachers- to study the impact of electronic products on students not only from the perspective of students’ self-perception, but also from the perspective of teachers and parents. In addition, for those respondents who chose positive impacts and those who chose negative impacts, we will further study them separately to find out the reasons for their choices. Our goal is to find an accurate measure that will help students, teachers, and parents set the most reasonable standards for electronic device use, maximizing the positive impact while minimizing the negative impact.
We would like to thank all the members of the We-Together Educational Foundation Student Council who spent their spare time recruiting participants for this survey through social media.
The author(s) have no relevant financial disclosures or conflicts of interest.
Measuring online teaching service quality in higher education in the COVID-19 environment. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(5):2403.
Dr. Yufeng Zhang is a full-time researcher in We-Together Educational Foundation, Irvine, California. His research areas include innovative strategies and technology in education and brain disorder non-invasive treatments. He received his formal training at School of Medicine UCLA. He is a registered pharmacist in California. Before he joined We-Together Foundation, he was a pharmacist and also a senior scientist in a biotech company.
David Zhang is a high school junior student. He is the president of student board at We-Together Educational Foundation, which mainly organized and conducted the survey. He is the leader, researcher, and writer in this activity. David is interested in research, mainly biotechnology and A.I. related biomedical research. He is doing biomedical research with two professors. He also published two research papers.
All the above authors are high school students and members of the student board of We-Together Educational Foundation. They were deeply involved in the survey, including designing, and preparing the survey, organizing survey activities, collecting data, statistical analysis and writing the article.