The Bright Side of Video Games

If you think video games are all Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, think again. A joint study sponsored by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that most teenagers prefer games involving solving puzzles, racing with or playing sports against friends. Is it time for parents to lighten up on this classic American battle?

The Skills to Pay the Bills?

For year, the overwhelming chorus from parents – tired of seeing their kids turned into screen zombies from the Xbox or Playstation – sounded like, turn that thing off and go outside! And while few parents, educators or medical professionals would refute the undeniable benefits of outdoor play, many are coming to realize that video gamers have a unique set of previously unsung skills.

For starters, gamers typically have strong hand-eye coordination. Big deal, you’re thinking. Well, in some fields it is; pilots, technologists, medical professionals and securities traders all need outstanding hand-eye skills. In addition, gamers usually demonstrate outstanding problem solving skills. Think about it: every game – violent or not – requires the player to solve a problem. Make a mistake? Start from scratch and redo it until you get it right.

Many physicians treat ADD and ADHD with video games because it’s a proven attention span increaser. And kids who play video games must learn patience, as well as the consequences of their actions. Get a few chances, make too many mistakes and start again.

The Social Aspect

Apparently, the cherished media image of the lone video gamer slaving away slack-jawed in a darkened bedroom really isn’t true. Most gamers, according to the Pew Research – American Life Project survey, enjoy playing – and communicating -- with their friends. That’s right – video gaming can be social. Players share tips, help each other out and solve problems together.

The Danger

As you probably suspect, just because video games offer unexpected benefits to their players doesn’t mean that it should be all screen time all the time. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends strict limits when it comes to any sort of technology usage, not just video games. Parents should limit preschoolers to less than two hours per day. Older kids may need more time – especially as homework demands increase – but parents should still monitor overall usage.

Chances are you know an adult who loves video games (Angry Birds or Words With Friends anyone?). That’s right – adults, too, need to set their own screen limits. With technology addiction treatments centers becoming as common as your local drug rehab center, self-monitoring is essential. If gaming starts to affect your life in a negative way and you can’t seem to stop, then it may be time to seek help. 

This guest post was written by Steph, who enjoys helping people learn about everything from technology to your local drug rehab center.

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