Can Video Games Actually Have Positive Effects?

Rebecca Scarlett By Rebecca Scarlett, 17th Aug 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Teenagers

Video games can have positive effects on children -- especially if they play the right ones.

Can Video Games Actually Have Positive Effects?

Many people believe that video games are ruining the children of today by exposing them to violence and far more instant gratification than is good for them. While it may be true that the constant dopamine rush kids receive from some of the most exciting games can make real life seem slow and boring by comparison, there is no evidence that video games "cause" ADD or other attention disorders. In fact, similar doomsday prophecies (like "it will ruin this generation") were made about both the radio and television when those entertainment mediums first became popular. While it may surprise you, video games actually have several positive effects on children.

Problem Solving

Most video games require some level of problem or puzzle solving. With the exception of the worst hack and slash games, video games make mental demands on players by making them solve logical puzzles to move on to the next stage of quests. Even games that are not advertised as being educational require children to identify difficult patterns and solve puzzles without explicit directions. For example, a door might be locked, and there will be no instructions to open it, but a player discovers that the room is full of statues that can be moved. Only when the statues are all sitting on the correct squares (which is difficult because putting a statue in one place may interfere with the moving of another statue) will the door open. At no point is the player explicitly told that the statues move, or that they need to be on certain squares. The player must figure this out on his/her own, which develops logic skills as well as visual-spatial manipulation skills.

Reading

Many parents wish that they could get their children "off the games" to spend more time reading. Why not pay more attention to which games the kids are playing? Role-playing games involve long quests with plots that are as intricate as any novel, and these plots are revealed mostly through dialogue. It is impossible to play the game successfully without a good deal of reading. Despite the fact that many kids and teenagers say they "hate" reading, these are some of the most popular games! If you want to nurture your child's reading skills, lean more towards “Final Fantasy” type games, and away from the "Grand Theft Auto" type games.

Hand-Eye Coordination

Studies have shown that kids who play more video games have better hand-eye coordination and reaction times. The speed of most video games demands quick decision-making in response to what appears on the screen, and many kids become so lightning fast as to baffle their parents. Hand-eye coordination comes in handy in all sports, and also in other areas, such as driving, that kids will need later on.
Even though video games have been demonized, there are many games out there that, when played in moderation, can actually have beneficial effects. As always, parents should pay attention to what their kids are playing (ask the staff at the game store if video games aren't your thing and you can't tell one game from another) and make sure there is a balance between video games and other activities, but if you let your child play responsibly, it may do some good!

Tags

Stop My Kid From Playing Video Games, Teenagers, Video Games

Meet the author

author avatar Rebecca Scarlett
Rebecca Scarlett is a professional freelance writer with over 14 years of experience. She writes articles, essays, blogs, short stories, plays, poetry, songs, novels, and does copy editing. She has been published in print and extensively online. Scar...(more)

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