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Video games. Are they good or bad?

When talking about video games and children, there are mostly two extremes.  Either you love it, or you hate it.  You get your “I will never allow my child to play video games” parents, and then there’s your “My child will play because I love to play” parents.  Each one believes that he is right, and few will reconsider their view on the matter.  Let us look at the two points of view.

Against

Some parents feel that their child will never be allowed to play videogames because…

  • It keeps them from playing outside and developing their muscles;

  • It inhibits their creativity and imagination;

  • It makes them socially awkward;

  • It makes them aggressive

For

Then you get the lovers.  They believe that videogames are good for children because…

  • It improves fine motor skills;

  • It helps with quick decision making;

  • It improves memory;

  • It is great fun.

So, what does the studies show?  Are video games good or bad?  We have looked at a few studies around the world, and they have come to the following conclusions;

  1. Video games may slow down aging as it exercises the brain.  It is therefore good for the whole family, even grandma and grandpa, to play videogames;

  2. Video games helps you to be a better decision maker. “Action video games are fast-paced, and there are peripheral images and events popping up, and disappearing. These video games are teaching people to become better at taking sensory data in, and translating it into correct decisions.”

  3. Games can help your eyesight, believe it or not!  The University of Rochester did a study in 2009.  Daphne Bavelier, the leader of the study, discovered that playing action games improves an ability called contrast sensitivity function. This ability helps us discern between changes in shades of grey against a coloured backdrop, which is very beneficial while driving at night.

  4. Improved focus and attention. When playing videogames, your child is forced to focus and pay attention.  The brain develops these skills and it is transferred to the classroom.

  5. Video games can make children less anti-social. Why?  Because when getting together with other children who play games, they share the same interest and have lots to talk about.

  6. Games Can Enhance Your Ability to Learn.  Contrary to popular belief that video games make you bad at school, researchers from the UK found that certain video games can actually enhance our brain flexibility.  This is especially true for fast paced action games.

Clearly there are a lot of benefits to children playing video games.  There are a few things to keep in mind though:

  •  Balance.  Keep the playing time to the minimum during the week and allow around two hours per day on weekends.  During school holidays parents can be more flexible;
  • Pay attention to the games your child is playing.  Make sure it is age-appropriate.  Before you buy a game for your child, do a bit of research;

If your child is really into videogames, use the games as a way to bond with your child.  Play together as a family.  Chat to your child about what he likes or doesn’t like about the game.  This can really build a good parent-child relationship and create memories that your child will treasure forever

And remember, too much of anything is never good…  

 

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