Positive Benefits of Video Gaming
Do you play video games as a family? Are you ashamed to admit it?
Video games often get a bad rap because they’re viewed as conduits to excessive screen time and game addiction but did you know that there are positive benefits to gaming?
High-tech parenting expert, Scott Steinberg, and author of The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games and the free Why Video Games are Good For You believes that it’s time to stop criticizing video games because “research is quickly demonstrating that gaming can be a perfectly beneficial and well-rounded part of a healthy, balanced media diet.” Steinberg says the new family friendly games “promote exercise and physical activity, encourage socialization and leadership, and foster dynamic problem-solving and decision-making skills – all areas of tremendous benefit to kids and adults alike.”
There’s no doubt that gaming platforms like the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 with Kinect, and Playstation 3 with Move encourage physical activity more than the Atari and Commodore 64 did for previous generations but the games themselves are improving thanks to constantly improving technology and thoughtful development by game designers. Everything from the look and feel of the game’s graphics to audio and interaction with content is an important part in creating an immersive experience that draws kids in to the game whether they are holding the controller or waiting their turn.
Earlier this year my daughter and I were invited on a press trip that included a preview of the not yet released Kinect Star Wars. Game designers carefully watched as kids played the game and as a parent on the sidelines, the level of physical activity and interaction between kids stood out. Kids were invited to test the game one at a time, leaving an anxious group on the sidelines who waited patiently but shouted out tips and suggestions for their friends as they navigated the pod racing course, making the experience increasingly social.
The level of social interaction, healthy competition, and problem solving that I witnessed among the kids playing Kinect Star Wars is something that Harvard Medical School researcher Cheryl Olson, ScD, found in her research with 1,000 public school students. Through her interviews and data, she found that “parent-approved video games played in moderation can help young kids develop in educational, social, and physical ways.” Olson said that games don’t have to be labeled as educational teaching in order to encourage planning, creative self-expression, exercise, healthy competition, and leadership.
As you keep an eye on screen time and balance it out with a variety of other activities, do these recent findings make you feel better about playing video games as a family? Do you believe the research based on your experience watching your kids play?
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