Put down that DS and text your mates - using mobile phones and playing video games doesn't harm teens' academic performance, according to new research by Michigan State University.

A three-year study of students from 20 schools found that using mobiles had no effect on the educational results of a group of 12-year-olds.

And while the researchers found a strong relationship between video games and lower results, gaming did not appear to affect skills in mathematics and actually had a positive relationship with visual-spatial skills.

More lessons in Halo Wars, please

These skills, where children learn visually, by thinking in pictures and images, are considered important techniques for mastering science, technology, engineering and maths.

As expected, female students used mobile phones more frequently than did males, while boys played video games far more frequently than did girls.

Report author Professor Linda Jackson said it's unrealistic to think kids will stop playing video games, so game developers should focus on elements that develop visual-spatial skills and less on themes such as violence. Also, more games should be developed that appeal to girls to better develop their visual-spatial skills.

When it comes to mobile phones, Jackson saw no detrimental effects. However, further research is needed on older students who are more apt to engage in "devious behavior" such as text-messaging test answers to each other, she said.