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García L.Preiss D. (2011)

Is the use of information and communication technology related to performance in working memory tasks? Evidence from Seventh-grade Students

Computers & Education 57, 3, 2068-2076,

Tipo de publicación: ISI UC
Departamento: Ciencia de la Computación

Centros: Centro de Estudios de Políticas y Prácticas en Educación
Áreas: Ciencias de la Computación Aplicaciones Interdesciplinarias , Educación e Investigación Educativa
Palabras clave: Chile , Computer use , Digital divide , video games , Visuo-spatial skills , Working memory Ver publicación

Abstract The main purpose of this study was to assess whether seventh-grade students use of information and communication technology (ICT) was related to performance on working memory tasks. In addition, the study tested whether the relationship between ICT use and performance on working memory tasks interacted with seventh-grade students’ socioeconomic level and gender. 275 students recruited from 30 Chilean schools were grouped according to their self-reported use of PC, the Internet, Chat and Video games. To assess students’ working memory performance, they were tested with a digit span test and a visuo-spatial measure. Only one of our two dependent variables reflected a relationship between specific profiles of ICT use and working memory. Higher scores on the digits span test were related to those user profiles combining PC use and video game play, that is, those identified as Full users and as PC and Console Gamers. We did not find an interaction effect of gender and ICT use or an interaction effect of socioeconomic level and ICT use. There are three possible explanations for these results: first, a proclivity of students with higher working memory capacity to engage in technology use; second, an impact on working memory of potential differences in multitasking; and, third, an impact on working memory of video game play. However, these results must be interpreted cautiously since scores on the GEFT, our visuo-spatial working memory measure, were not related to any profile of technology use. As serious educational games become more regularly used at school, previous differences in video game experience become growingly important. Future research must study whether the intended benefits of serious educational games are being mediated by individual differences in previous exposure to video games and other information and computer technologies, with independence of the directionality of the relationship between video game play and working memory.