The Effects of Video Game Experience and Family Environment on Spatial Memory Development

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2020-05

Authors

Majmundar, Lajja

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Abstract

How children navigate their world, and what environmental cues they use to build a map of their environment has been extensively studied behaviorally. But, with advances in technology, experimental designs have shifted from real environments to virtual environments. This generates an experimental experience that mimics everyday navigation but is easier to control for any confounding variables. To this extent, it has sparked the question of how video game experience influences individual differences in spatial map formation. The present study addresses how video game exposure impacts spatial memory across 6- 12-year-olds and adults. Indices of spatial memory were determined by behavioral measures taken from an object location task (path efficiency, distance error, angular error). Video game experience was collected through a questionnaire that generated scores for active gameplay, virtual layout exposure, and passive watching. An additional factor considered was the effect of family structure on video game experience. This included the amount of family disposable income, parental educational level, and perceived family dynamic. Participants showed a developmental increase in spatial memory accuracy across the age range tested, and participants with greater video game experience demonstrated better spatial memory. However, this was significantly mediated by an interaction with age, whereby only children showed a link between video game experience and spatial memory. While parental education was a significant predictor of video game experience, parental education and perceived family function were not. Additionally, all three measures were non-significant predictors of task performance directly. This study shows that while video game experience is a significant predictor of object location task performance in children, whether social familial factors if any, mediate this relationship are yet to be fully understood.

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