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Playing computer and video games is a popular pastime activity for many adolescents worldwide. However, the increasing amount of time spent on these games each day raised fears that this comes at the expense of school and, over the long run, impairs academic achievement. Extending prior research, the present study on a sample of N = 3,554 German adolescents (56% girls) adopted a prospective design and examined the effects of the time playing computer games each day on grades and domain-specific competences in mathematics and reading over time. Robust polynomial regressions combined with specification curve analyses showed that longer gaming times predicted worse grades two years later. These results could be replicated after controlling for initial grades and reasoning abilities. In contrast, mathematical and reading competences were not affected by gaming times. Thus, playing computer and video games can result in a noticeably, albeit small, loss of educational returns, but it does not affect basic competences.
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