Mar 112012
Video game controller
Video game controller

Video game controller

Like many other parents with children approaching their teen years, I’ve often wondered about how much video game playing should be allowed. If left to their own devices, I know my kids would play for hours without even a potty break. Some parents I know let their kids play whenever they want to the point where they do not even interact with others at family gatherings. On the other extreme, some parents I know ban all video games believing that such games will turn their kids’ brains to mush within minutes or, at the minimum, produce the next Ted Bundy.

As parents, we’re constantly deluged by parenting “experts” exhorting the inherent evils of TV and video games. I’ve always been skeptical about extreme viewpoints. Thus, I was quite intrigued by an article in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago about the benefits of gaming for a change.

A growing body of university research suggests that gaming improves creativity, decision-making and perception. The specific benefits are wide-ranging, from improved hand-eye coordination in surgeons to vision changes that boost night driving ability.

According to a researcher quoted in the article, the more middle schoolers played video games, the higher their scores on a standardized test of creativity. However, there was no positive effect when these kids used cellphones, the Internet, or computers for other reasons besides gaming. That’s amazing if true. Don’t forget, proving causality is very difficult.

I think there is a happy medium with regards to allowing kids to play video games. As with most forms of entertainment, some types of games are good and some are bad. And some of the games may actually benefit their brains.