How To Gain from Video Games

by Christina Breda Antoniades

How To Gain from Video Games

4 ways to sort the bad from the good when it comes to your child and video games

We’ve all heard that kids who play violent video games may be more likely to have aggressive thoughts and behaviors than those who don’t. But a growing body of research shows some video games can actually help kids, too. How do you sort the good stuff from the bad?

Get cooperative
“Content matters greatly,” says Douglas Gentile, director of research for the National Institute on Media and the Family. “Pro-social” games such as Super Mario Sunshine and the Animal Crossing series, in which players help other characters, encourage supportive behavior in real life.

Make a move
It’s not just Wii Sports and Wii Fit that gets them off the couch. Guitar Hero, Rock Star, and Dance Dance Revolution do, too — and there are versions of these games available for all the popular systems.

Find your middle ground
Yes, some action games can be rough — but played in moderation they also can boost visual attention, spatial skills, and hand-eye coordination, as well as encourage scientific thinking. Honing these skills may feel like a worthwhile trade-off for some moms.

Limit time
Increased gaming has been tied to poorer school performance, obesity, and even repetitive stress injuries. Try to keep all “screen time” (TV and computers, too) to one or two hours a day, max.