Video Games: Do they have a positive effect on the brain?

Video games are frowned upon by parents as time-wasters, and worse, some education expects think that these games corrupt the brain. Playing violent video games are easily blamed by the media and some experts say this is the reason why some young people become violent or commit extreme anti-social behaviour. But many scientists and psychologists find that video games may actually have many benefits. Many studies have actually shown increases in cognitive function after playing video games. One study in particular had percipients play super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day over 2 months. Afterwards the brains of these participants saw an increase of grey matter in areas associated with memory, strategic planning, and fine motor skills of the hands, compared to those who had not played. These are extremely encouraging results for mental disorders which cause these brain regions to shrink; using video games as a therapy. Surprisingly action games can also increase attention to detail in individuals. Video games may actually teach children high-level thinking skills that they will need in the future. Take a look at these words in different colours; your challenge is to say the COLOUR that the word is, not the actual word (as fast as you can): easy light work blue purple red yellow green orange pink blue

It becomes more difficult because there is a conflict between the word itself and its colour. “Video games change your brain” according to university of Wisconsin psychologist c. Shawn Green. Playing video games change the brains physical structure the same way as learning to read, playing the piano, or navigating using a map. Much like exercise can build muscle, the powerful combination of concentration and rewarding surges of neurotransmitters like dopamine strengthen neural circuits that can build the brain. Chances are, if you play more than 5-10 hours of action games a week, you’re able to solve these problems much more quickly. This is because your brain is actually more efficient in the region associated with attention. When your child plays video games, it gives his/her brain a real workout. In many video games, the skills required to win involve abstract and high level thinking. These skills are not even taught at school. Some of the mental skills enhanced by video games include: 1 – following instructions, 2 – problem solving and logic – when a child plays a game such as the incredible machine, angry birds or cut the rope, he or she trains their brain to come up with creative ways to solve puzzles and other problems in short bursts. 3 – hand-eye coordination, in shooting games, the character may be running and shooting at the same time. This requires the real world player to keep track of the positon of the position of the character, where he/she is heading, their speed, where it is aiming, if the gunfire is hitting the target and so on. All these factors need to be taken into account, and then the player must then coordinate the brains interpretation and reaction with the movement in his/ her hands and fingertips. This process requires a great deal of eye-hand coordination and visual-spatial ability to be successful.

Research also suggests that people can learn iconic, spatial, and visual attention skills from video games. There have been studies with adults showing that experience with video games is related to better surgical skills. Also a reason given by experts as to why fighter pilots of today are more skilful is that this generation’s pilots are being weaned on video games. 4 – Planning, resource management and logistics. The player learns to manage resources that are limited and decide the best use of resources, the same way as in real life. This skill is honed in strategy games such as SimCity, age of empires, and railroad tycoon. Notably, the American planning association, the trade association of carbon planners and maxis, the game creators have claimed that SimCity has inspired a lot of its players to take career in carbon planning and architecture. 5 – Multitasking, simultaneous tracking of many shifting variables and managing multiple objects. In strategy games, for instance, while developing a city, and in expected surprise like an enemy might emerge, this forces the player to be flexible and quickly change tactics.

6 – Quick thinking, making fast analysis and decisions. Sometimes the player does this almost every second of the game giving the brain a real workout. Games like this require a quick thinking time / reaction time some of the games that require these are: The walking dead, Until dawn and fallout 4.  7 – memory – playing first person shooting games such as call of duty (C.O.D.) and Battlefield series enables the player to effectively judge what information should be stored in his/her working memory and what can be discarded considering the task in hand. 8 – Improved ability to rapidly and accurately recognise visual information.


Of course video games can also be incredibly educational and while you may not be playing some of your favourite video games for this purpose, there are certainly many games that are used as effective teaching tools for both young and old. They may even help children who suffer from dyslexia, read more efficiently. In a small study, dyslexic children who played regular video games ended up reading faster and more accurately – again this relates to improved attention skills, meanwhile other studies have found improvements in eyesight not only can they see smaller details more clearly, like tiny writing, but they have an easier time differentiating levels of grey. Very practised action gamers were 58% better perceiving fine differences in contrast. Which is important as this is one of the first things to diminish with age. Even the elderly, improved memory and focus is seen. More importantly, specially designed brain teasing video games have been shown to slow the aging process of the brain by up to 7 years. This is because they are cognitively complex and require mental energy! As technology continues to transform, medicine surgeries are being completed with the inversion of cameras and remote controlling device. Not surprisingly young doctors with previous exposure to video games show a fewer errors and faster completion than those without. All of these skills are only useful if you use them; which you can’t if all you do is play video games. So do you agree that video games can actually have positive effect on the brain?


By Romany Year 10

Visit to Media City

Media City

Tarporley’s very own English and Media teacher, Mrs McMillan, was asked to record the voiceover for a new trailer for BBC School Report – a BBC project which gives students in the UK the chance to make their own news reports for a real audience. The trailer is still in production but will be played nationally on television, on radio and online later this year.

Having been heavily involved in the BBC School Report project for many years, the BBC approached the school to receive feedback from teachers who had worked with students in the past. Mrs McMillan spoke to the Marketing team, and as a result of that discussion, was invited to Media City, Manchester, to record the voiceover in a studio this summer.

Two English and Media students, Rhiannon Price and Dan Farrell, accompanied Mrs McMillan to Media City, gaining invaluable insights into the Media Industry as well as acquiring a unique experience to refer to on their UCAS applications for University. Mrs McMillan said, ‘it was a really daunting experience but a fascinating process. It will be strange hearing my voice set to an animation on a national marketing campaign.’

The main BBC School report news day is on 10th March 2016, which Tarporley students will be involved in once again. Look (and listen) out for the forthcoming trailer on the run up to the main event!

Media City 1


Representation in the Media and Why It’s Important

As you may have noticed, we live in a heteronormative, cisnormative white-centric patriarchy. Alternatively, you may not have noticed. This, to you, may just be ‘traditional values’, or ‘just the way things are’. I can assure you – this is NOT the ‘way things are’. To a queer person, a trans or genderqueer person, a person of colour, this is not the way things are; or should be.

As a pansexual, non-binary teenager, one thing I would love to see in the media is another pansexual or non-binary person. Having been told that your sexuality and gender don’t exist by ignorant people who refuse to educate themselves – or be educated for that matter – is an infuriating experience. The absence of anyone like me who can show these people that it really does exist only furthers this assertion. I know for a fact that there are other people like me, they are out there – living and breathing – so why am I invisible everywhere I look?

To give a sense of just how important representation for all minorities, let me tell you something you may not know about award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o. She decided against bleaching her skin after seeing legendary chat show host Oprah Winfrey’s success as a black female. Now look at her. Beautiful, an incredible actress, and unashamedly black. She’s a shining beacon of hope for all black girls, telling them that they too can become amazing. She was inspired and in turn will help to inspire an entire generation of kids.

Now it’s also important for the people who aren’t part of these minorities to see them on television and in the media. Education is a vital part of overcoming prejudice. Most people are simply ignorant and because they have never seen people of the minority they have never had any reason to get educated. The number of people who I’ve had to explain to that gender is not a binary, but a spectrum is ridiculous. This should be taught in schools who young kids who are learning that they are not cis or heterosexual don’t feel broken, wrong, or suffer incredible dysphoria because they’ve never received proper education about it. For other students, who are cisgender or heterosexual, it is vastly important as well. They’ve never been exposed to anyone outside the ‘norm’, so when they are they lash out and bully people. Being bullied because of something you can’t change is horrible, especially when it’s something as trivial as your sexuality. Bullying because of someone’s sexuality or gender would drastically decrease if kids were educated about sexuality and gender from a young age. It’s important – okay?

However, despite my moaning we, as a society, have gotten a lot better at representation and gay people have become a lot more understood and accepted because of the rising amount of serious gay characters on our TV screens. Rewind 10, 20 years previous and gay people were few and far between – and they were all ridiculously camp and feminine. While there are indeed gay people like this, they were comic relief, nothing more. Possibly some of the best programs for representation right now are the recently finished series ‘Cucumber’, ‘Banana’, on E4 and Channel 4 respectively. ‘Cucumber’ followed the ‘passions and pitfalls of 21st century gay life, beginning with the most disastrous date night in history’; while ‘Banana’ followed eight different stories, each exploring a different aspect of the LGBT+ spectrum and different kinds of relationships. I liked that it wasn’t thrust in your face every other sentence like, ‘HAHA WOW LOOK AT US WE’RE SO GAY WITH OUR GAYNESS LOL’, it was subtle, normal, as any LGBT+ people or friends of LGBT+ people are. My one gripe with it, though, is that a character who clearly was not just attracted to men was always labelled as gay. They all were, in fact. It was fantastic, but why is this world so hesitant to say the word ‘bisexual’? The character in question was obviously bisexual or pansexual, but vague nudges in the general direction is not enough. As it stands there are rather a few bisexual characters, but most aren’t strictly bisexual, their sexuality is portrayed as fluid. So not bisexual then, I can’t help thinking.

I guess I should appreciate the small steps we are making, but let’s not forget the lovely reception watchers of hit show ‘The Walking Dead’ gave to two characters Aaron and Eric sharing a kiss. Yes, in a show littered with literal, decomposing corpses and zombies, cannibalism and attempted rape the most disgusting and perverse thing was two men in love. Well done guys. So yes, despite everything there is a long way to go. It’s easy to say everyone is totally accepting when not confronted with this blatant homophobia and prejudice. And even though people may totally support the LGBT+ community and not harbour any prejudice, they still use the words ‘faggot’, and gay to describe something. It should not be my job to educate my classmates on why this language is homophobic – but that’s where I find myself. The only people I can blame for this though, is parents. I’m not saying they’re all to blame, but when they treat the word ‘gay’ like a swear word around children it makes them believe it’s a bad word, and so they use it and other children start using it in this way as well.

So, all in all, representation is good. Not only for the vastly underrepresented minorities but for the people outside of them, who are blissfully ignorant; most of the time. Representation gives them a voice, someone to identify with and relate to, and it assures people that they’re not alone in the struggles they may face, being part of a minority. It’s vital for everyone, and I hope we continue to make steps in the right direction until every cast of TV programs, books and all other media is as diverse and wonderful as real life.

Written by Suki

Body of Evidence

Psychologists use the term ‘body image’ to describe what we think we look like. This can be thought of as a mental representation of our body that we compare to others. The overexposure to the media directs young people to examine their bodies and even measure their physical appearance to unrealistic computer enhanced images. Magazines and social media show images of celebrities and models that have been enhanced using computer programming and edit techniques such as Photoshop. This has a large effect on the teenage demographic as they are comparing themselves to the ‘perfect body’ that the media is portraying, despite the fact that the image they are aspiring to look like is fake and edited.


On average teenage girls spend 7.7 hours per week on their appearance and teenage boys spend 4 hours. Surely with these statistics, the media should be conscious of the pressures they are causing teenagers. The edited images are unnatural and not what we should be aspiring to look like. In an interview, Actress Jennifer Lawrence said “I think when it comes to the media, they need to take responsibility for the effect that they have on our younger generation”.

Our research and interviews shows us that girls are increasingly becoming more conscious about their appearance, however boys in high school are just as sensitive to the subject, this is due to ‘teasing’ or ‘banter’ within friendship groups and social media pressures boys to look fit and muscular just as much as it pressures girls to be slim and ‘perfect’. This causes a lot of issues because it knocks self-confidence, and effects future life, and may be the reason why eating disorders, self-harm and depression is more common in young people.

On social media, such as YouTube and Instagram there are accounts and channels dedicated to advising teenagers on how to lose weight. “Thinspo” has become a major phenomenon on most social media platforms, these accounts offer young people ‘inspiration’ to make themselves thinner, whether this be through dangerous dieting or simply not eating at all. Through personal experience, I know that some girls will not eat at all in school because it is seen embarrassing to eat in front of others and they think that it is healthier to just eat chocolate or a small snack than to eat a full meal. On the other hand, ‘skinny’ girls have been targeted through popular culture recently in songs such as “Anaconda” and “All About That Bass”, both of which portray slimmer girls as ‘fake’, conceited and even compares them to Barbie dolls. Girls with slimmer body types are just as easily affected by bullying as larger girls and are now looking to icons such as Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj who have unattainable figures.

We talked to some students and staff in school and they gave us their opinions on some issues we brought up.

When we asked a pair of 15 year old girls if they had ever felt body conscious or insecure about the way they looked, one answered, “Yes, all the time. It’s a big struggle. A lot of people compare themselves to others, even if they don’t want to. It’s a constant comparison.” So it looks like teen girls struggle with the way they look all of the time and they feel like they have to match up to others. When the same age boys were asked the same questions, answers were surprisingly very similar. One said “yes, I do feel conscious.” And the other replied “yes, quite a bit.” When we talked to them, they didn’t seem as conscious as the girls did, however said they experienced more teasing and ‘banter’ about the way they looked within their friendship group. A young, male PE teacher informed us that he often sees “banter amongst the boys in the changing rooms when someone is thin or bigger than the others. Whereas girls are more sensitive and don’t really mention the size of one another in a bad way.”

Media has a massive impact on the way people look at themselves. We wanted to know whether magazines and social media had a bigger effect on girls or boys. The same teacher felt it was girls whom struggled with this issue the most. He said, “Oh girls have it rougher definitely. There are men’s magazines with muscular guys, but women’s magazines are based on the way people look and body image.” The other male students agreed, saying they thought the media put more pressure on girls than boys. But when we asked the two female students this question, they had more empathy on the boys. When we asked, which sex has it worse, one replied “it’s equal. Skinny and fat shaming is common amongst girls and media is constantly conveying the perfect body and looks. But also boys are pressured into looking ‘buff’ and going to the gym.” This gym culture surrounding boys is evident in our interviews. Our PE teacher told us “gym culture and things like protein shakes are quite a big thing with lads.” One of our male students however said, “I go to the gym because I want to look and feel like that, not because of media representations.”

One current topic of conversation in our interview was France wanting to ban super skinny models on the catwalk. France may be banning “super skinny” models, and jailing anyone who hires them. The use of the word “skinny” can be as offensive as being called the reverse. One French MP has branded the models as “glorifying anorexia” and two years ago, fashion designer, Giorgio Armani, said that the fashion industry had a duty to ‘work together against anorexia’.  We had many different views on this controversial issue. A young female teacher at our school believes banning them is a good thing, “once one place takes up the idea, everyone else with follow. At the moment everywhere has skinny models and it isn’t fair.” But the 14 year old girl thought they shouldn’t, “its discrimination and skinny shaming, I think they should allow all sizes.” So, even though the young teen felt that the media made her more self-conscious, she didn’t want those who were that size and just trying to get a career to be discriminated. The boys didn’t really have opinions on the matter whereas another young female had a very good message to give us,” there shouldn’t be any skinny or fat shaming. Everyone is beautiful. It has always been the case that not slim, but skinny people have been used to model clothes, but people take it the wrong way and think they should look this way. Models look like that for a reason, because it doesn’t affect the look of the clothes, if you’re not modelling clothes for Marc Jacobs then it’s not a look you should try and achieve.”

Finally, we asked both the male and female teacher if the pressure lessened as they got older. Both had opposing opinions. The male teacher said “yes, it does. In year 7 I didn’t care, towards the end of high school when everyone was growing taller, going to the gym, and getting muscle was when I was most conscious.” The female teacher however said, “I think it gets worse, in uni, when you’re in larger groups or in city life, the pressure just grows to fit the perfect image.” So it’s clear that as people get older the pressure to look a certain way is different for boys and girls. And to end, the male PE teacher gave us a very good piece of advice, “everyone goes through a stage of uncertainty, but it passes.”

By Lucy, Lucy, Emily, Hannah and Alice

Year 10

Once a one hit wonder always a one hit wonder?


To Kill a Mockingbird; loved by many, winner of puilzer prize has sold and bought over 40 million copies worldwide. So it is completely understandable to be apprehensive toward a “secondary” story and a revisit to Maycomb.

55 years after Harper Lee’s debut novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published Lee has annonced her must anticipated second book: Go Set a Watchman, due to be released this summer. News of the publication excited fans of the 88-year-old author after much expectation and a weight that has been on Harper Lee’s shoulders in the past to release a second follow up novel.

“It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman and I thought it a pretty decent effort,” Lee said in a statement. “My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told.”

She then added “I hadn’t realised it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.”

However when the news was announced questions arose about the author’s ability to consent to publish of the novel and that the company was manipulating her. Recently a law suit has been placed against the company stating that it was ‘elder abuse’ toward Harper Lee. However no evidence was found and the case was over ruled.


The novel was written in the mid-1950’s and was thought to have been lost by the publishing company and most importantly Harper Lee. This makes the media speculate on the authenticity of the novel and the condition of the text that’s been written.

Likewise, in an interview with Harper Lee’s sister. Alice Cater – who died last year at the age of 103 – she stated: “Poor Nelle Harper can’t see and can’t hear and will sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence.” This leaves others to suggest that Harper Lee was forced into signing by her agent and therefor the publish isn’t for the right reasons.

On the other hand, I believe that Harper Lee has all conscious intentions to publish and release her novel. As an English student studying her first novel To Kill a Mockingbird I have all hope and confidence that she will publish her novel and that it will be well received as I am very interested in the story line and would like to see if Harper Lee was just a one hit wonder or if her following stories can live up to the expectation set by her debut novel.

In an interview with Jonathan Burnham, senior vice-president at HarperCollins, he said: “Harper Lee was delighted to learn of the discovery of the manuscript of Go Set a Watchman, and – as her statement in the press release attests – is very happy to see this novel published at long last. To suggest otherwise is completely unacceptable.”

Conversely, I fear that many people in the media and outside of it will not receive the novel the same way To Kill a Mockingbird was, and therefore ruin her reputation. I think that the media will be split over opinions on the book and that she will receive a lot of hatred from previous fans of hers. Nevertheless I believe that the novel will still have a lot of support and will continue Harper Lee’s fame long after To Kill a Mockingbird.

Harper Lee is and will always remain a literary genius. However should a one hit wonder always stay a one hit wonder?

By Molly

The stresses and strains of High School and Sixth form Life

In all schools across the nation, pupils are given homework, asked to complete controlled assessments and are advised to revise for upcoming tests. These all combine to inflict the student often high levels of stress. But for every test, homework and controlled assignment there is a teacher that has to mark and review it.. We hope to highlight, within this article,  some of the key strains placed on  students and  teachers alike.


For the   KS3 years, the biggest out of school stress is homework and of course like with anything, there are always mixed opinions. “Often teachers forget to set homework, but when   they do set it I often get a lot at once, but sometimes it can be interesting   to do. Maths is usually set on the right days and the deadlines are strict” –   Caleb, a year 8 student.After KS3 the new year 10’s introduced to their   GCSE’s and as part of the qualifications you have to complete controlled assignments   in certain subjects. This a big stress to many pupils and many opinions of  them are held. “I feel as though even though we are prepared thoroughly, often I can be very confused about what the question means and how to answer school report


Although, the controlled assessments can be hard it helps me look at and analyse things in different ways which is beneficial for other subjects. The skills are very transferable.” – Hannah and Alice, year 10 students.Upon entering year 10 the main school focus is training for your GCSE’s and in year 11 the pressure mounts to do well in your GCSE’s. Upon interviewing some year 11’s these opinions were stated.“I feel quite confident about my GCSE’s even though there is a lot of stress involved, but my teachers have prepared us well.” A year 11 student.In year 12 and 13, the focus of learning changes to preparation for university and later life. Often the stress can hit them the hardest and leave them worried.Amy Barker says “Going to university is a challenge, there are many different courses and places to go to. However at Tarporley you are given huge amounts of support and advice as well as opportunities to gain relevant work experience to your course or career choice. Overall, it’s a difficult process but Tarporley supports you every step of the way.”Often teachers remain unpraised after doing lots of work that is unknown to students. For example; marking, reviewing work and creating new ideas for exciting lessons.Mr Gildea, assistant head teacher.“As a teacher you worry about your students constantly because you want them to do the best that they can. Overall, teaching is an absolute joy and it is a privilege to work with young people.”Written by Tom, Tom, Harry, Will and Jacob


BBC School Reports 2015

Students from this school will be making the news for real on 19 March 2015 as they take part in BBC News School Report. We aim to publish the news by 1600 GMT on News Day, so please save this page as a favourite and return to it later.”

Twins discover effects of social media in sleep survey

School Reporters from Tarporley High School conducted an investigation into the impact of late-night social networking on their sleep patterns.

Identical twins Ollie and Chris mapped their social media use and sleep patterns over two nights. Their deputy head teacher was worried by the results – and maybe you will be too.

Click the link below to view the BBC Report:


We survived Radio 5 Live …

We survived Radio 5 Live …

As part of the BBC School Report, we decided to do a story on Sleep Deprivation. A group of about 15 Year 10 students spent two weeks preparing the story, before the BBC came in to record the segment for Radio 5 Live and also film for a BBC Television slot.

After the students spent two days off timetable with the BBC camera crew, we were told that the Radio segment would be aired on Wednesday 12th March. However, what we didn’t know at the time was that they also wanted Mrs Watterson, Mrs McMillan, and three students to join them in the studio live for an On-Air Interview. This opportunity evolved after the success of our first News recording.

Our initial feelings when Charlotte, Sarah and I were invited to go to Media City for the interview with BBC Radio 5Live were of course shock, surprise and excitement. However none of us had imagined how surreal the experience truly was. “The thought of being in front of professional BBC presenters was daunting, and the thought of our words being head by the Nation was exciting.”

We were all given Security passes when we walked in to one of the many BBC Buildings- past the Jeremy Kyle Studio, The Voice set and the BBC Sport workroom.  Our mentor journalist Gill from the BBC greeted us as we walked in, and quickly ushered us to the waiting space outside the studio. We were briefed about the interview content, and then guided into the 5Live studio, where we sat in comfy big chairs, with BBC mic’s in front of us! Gill told us: “this is an absolute first for BBC School Report, we have never had a live link to BBC Radio 5 Live before. This is thanks to all of your hard work.”

The interview went by in a flash, and before we knew it we were once again outside the studio, in the waiting space. However we were then surprised to find out that Radio Manchester also wanted us for an interview! Although just as professional, I enjoyed the Radio Manchester interview the most, because it was more informal and conversational.

Overall the day was an incredible experience, the interviews were very interesting and even exploring Media City was great fun! I would definitely recommend that younger students should get involved with The BBC School Report if given the opportunity!

By Sarah Stearne, Christian Quinn and Charlotte Thomas-Wood

Radio5-1 Radio5-2