A new study has shown that children's reading and maths skills are directly influenced by the type of extra-curricular activity they engage in.

The study on nine-year-olds, called 'Growing Up In Ireland' was carried out by Trinity College Dublin and the ESRI.

It also found clear differences in school performance depending on the type of activity a child engages in.

Children who take part in cultural activities, such as music and drama, and in social networking have higher levels of maths and literacy skills than others.

The lowest levels of educational achievement were found among children who do not have access to computers or who mainly engage in unstructured activities, such as watching television.

However, the study also warned that being involved in too many activities actually cancelled out some of the educational benefits.

The report's authors say that because many activities that boost literacy and maths cost money, there is a risk that those who cannot afford it will lose out.

The findings are based on interviews with 8,500 nine-year-olds and their parents, teachers and principals in 2007 and 2008.

Now that the children have turned 13, they and their families are currently taking part in a follow-up study.