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The Balance: Video Games Good/Bad for Kids

Is playing video games good or bad for your kid? It surely can be both. The anti-gamers have studied the effects of these games for thirty years or so now with some evidence. The pro-gamers have also made some very good argument themselves. With both sides going at each other it has become somewhat confusing to pick a side for children and parents alike.

A study by the Max Planck Institute in Germany found that people who played a video game actually had an increase in the size of the part of the brain that has to do with memory, strategy, and fine motor skills. A British study found that video gaming can increase the speed of perceptual processing. And a University of Iowa study found that playing certain kinds of video games may help the brain stay younger as we age.

There are many types of video games, so you cannot base your opinion only on shooters. Note as well that films and books can contain the same violent content as some video games. The 'Warrior Cats' book series features violent death scenes. The 'Edge Chronicles' books have extremely gory illustrations. Both books are in the children's section of most bookshops and libraries. I don't know whether Yu-Gi-Oh games are on video now.

Then it comes this story. At a soccer game the other day, a 6 year old was getting mad that the he couldnt get ball from another player, so he said "I want to chop your head, smash your body to bits and kill you." When questioned on where he had heard this, he said "I do it all the time on my Xbox". Kids that age and older can tell the difference between right and wrong. To me the easiest targets would be the children of a younger age who can’t tell the real difference between right and wrong, reality or gaming world.

Labeling one kind of game good or bad is simply a matter of opinion. Besides, good and bad are two subjective terms. While there are many games that can be considered bad, as they might rot your brain is nothing but your personal opinion. We have not come to a widely scientific support that games are either good or bad for kids. A fact must be proven and recognized to move on such direction. Following that logic, movies, books, TV shows, and even news reports rot your brain because they expose you to repetitive garbage.

Being smart in the real world involves a multitude of factors - so playing video games (or playing them practically all the time), isn't a strategy for success. The same way as everyone pretty much agrees that there are still down sides to video games. What's popular is the permanent complaint of parents and teachers. Having a son who plays at home I can say that we need to find a balance. Don't just let them play all the time. Video games don't necessarily decrease attention spans.

I know there are serious objection to multitasking, but watch a kid doing homework. What your going to see is a computer on, a TV on, a smartphone also on and then a pen a notebook and probably a book. It seems to me that video games might be making kids better at concentrating, and kids with problems like dyslexia, better at reading. Now I know many of you will start to give me your opinions. That's ok while I respect yours, I politely disagree.

Video games are also being studied for their effectiveness in helping with depression -- many kids say they feel depressed when playing and when not playing, to reduce feelings of pain and anxiety, and to improve eyesight. Games often require problem solving and decision making, great skills to have in the real world, too. And games where players work together remotely in real time, develop teamwork skills.

I'd like to hear of your experiences, or the scientific foundation to take part on the video games impact on young minds.

What Gamers Can Teach Us - Video

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Milton Ramirez

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