Parenting : Conventional wisdom suggests that time spent playing
video games is time wasted. The common perception is that few video games
exercise the brain and, if there is any physical activity involved, it's usually
the occasional wave of a controller rather than anything that will work up a
sweat. And shouldn't kids be outside playing, rather than sitting in front of
yet another screen?
Not so fast, say many parenting experts and researchers. Studies have
consistently shown that the benefits of video gaming can far outweigh the
perceived negatives. Although video gaming should certainly be supervised, there
are good reasons why you should let your kids spend a few hours a week building
cities or battling aliens. Here's why:
1. Video games teach problem solving
Video games get kids to think. There are dozens of video games that are
specifically geared towards learning, but even the most basic shooter game
teaches kids to think logically and quickly process large amounts of data.
Rather than passively absorbing content from, say, a TV show, a video game
requires the player's constant input to tell the story.
Related: 10 classic children's books that come alive on the iPad
2. Video games are social
The stereotype of the pasty-faced adolescent sitting in his mom's basement
playing video games on his own is as outdated as Space Invaders. Many games have
thriving online and offline fan-bases, and a community component that strongly
encourages social interaction.
3. Video games provide positive reinforcement
Most video games are designed to allow players to succeed and be rewarded for
that success. Different skill levels and a risk-and-reward gaming culture mean
that kids are not afraid to fail and will take a few chances in order to achieve
their ultimate goal.
4. Video games teach strategic thinking
Video games teach kids to think objectively about both the games themselves and
their own performance. While there are many games that place a premium on
strategy, most set an overall goal and give the gamer numerous ways in which he
or she can achieve that goal. Players also get instant feedback on their
decisions and quickly learn their own strengths and weaknesses.
5. Video games build teamwork
The vast majority of video games are now designed with cooperative play options.
Whether it's fighting off alien invaders, solving puzzles, or being on the same
bobsleigh team, video games offer kids a wealth of opportunities to
constructively work together.
6. Video games improve hand-eye coordination
Video games have been found to improve the balance and coordination of numerous
patients from stroke victims to those suffering from Parkinson's Disease. There
have even been studies that suggest that surgeons who regularly play video games
make less mistakes in the operating theater than non-gamers. Even if your child
is super-healthy and has no desire to be a surgeon or watch-maker, good hand-eye
coordination is an invaluable skill to have.
7. Video games bring families together
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Video games aren't just for kids anymore. Ask
your kids to teach you a few moves and you might find that Family Fun Night is
every bit as enjoyable as those games of Clue and Monopoly used to be when you
were a kid!
- By Monica Villa
For the 10 best iPad apps for kids, visit Babble!
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Monica Villa is the Chief Technology Mom and co-founder of The Online
Mom, the market leader in providing online and off-line tools to make parents of
kids K-12 smarter and more comfortable with the technology that touches their
family. The Online Mom is a website, an online newsletter, a forum for
discussion, a network of certified experts and a 500,000-strong twitter
community devoted to promoting a healthy understanding and appreciation for the
positive role technology can play in a family's life.