The sense of speed and the influence of videogames in children: UniSR publishes a study

A recent study conducted at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, published in the prestigious journal Scientific Reports, had explored the perceptual sensitivity to anomalous video speeds, discovering that video could be altered – slowed-down or sped-up – without the participants noticing any difference (we talked about it here).

Following that study, Prof. Claudio de’Sperati, Associate of Psychophysiology at the Faculty of Psychology and Head of the Unit of Experimental Psychology, coordinated a new research, published in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, which analyzes the sense of speed in children.

Photo credit: ShutterStock
Photo credit: ShutterStock

He explains: “In collaboration with the Sigmund Freud University in Milan, we analyzed the sense of speed in 142 primary school children. We found that younger children repute the video clip reproduction speed to be lower as compared to older children. What does this result mean? “A possible interpretation is that videos look slower in younger children because normally the screen reduces the image size compared to reality and the brain has not yet adapted to this artificial visual mode. According to this hypothesis, which is still to be verified, TV or smartphone watching could represent a sort of “burden” for the visual system, slowing down its functions. This phenomenon could be compensated by optimizing the video speed according to children’s age, but first it is important to appraise the implications of this phenomenon, also with respect to the development of the sense of reality, which is what we started doing in our research. Of course, the first option is a brainy use of video technologies, by not overusing them”.

Photo credit: ShutterStock
Photo credit: ShutterStock

A second aspect analyzed is the influence of video games on the sense of speed: “We found that, for children who use video games the most, the common video clips seem to run faster, regardless of age. This result, which in some respects may seem counterintuitive, could mean that gamers tend to project on the reality, by accelerating it, the rhythms of action of video games”.

Video games and television are commonly referred to as harmful (certainly no one would advise their children to spend their days on video games or watching TV). “However, some studies – reflects de’Sperati – have also shown positive aspects of video games: for example, action video games improve attention and reading skills in dyslexic children. Only our study, however, has highlighted a relationship with the sense of speed. In this sense video games could help to compensate for the above-mentioned visual “burden”.

He adds: “We are launching a multi-center international study to extend these results to a wider and heterogeneous population of children and adolescents, and also to check whether “ocular video games” (in which the eyes control what happens on the screen) could have an even greater effect than traditional video games on children affected by dyslexia and dyscalculia”. One of the aims of the study is to check if and how the massive consumption of video can affect the development of the dynamic sense of reality.

Photo credit: ShutterStock
Photo credit: ShutterStock

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