Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Could video games actually be good for kids?

I let my kids play video games. There, I have said it. The parenting police can come and get me now. Of course, my children are not allowed an unlimited amount of time - they have their daily media allotment (they get to pick whether they spend it on the computer or watching TV). They do enjoy video games, however, and I don't mean the ones that come wrapped up in educational goals. No matter how I much I might want them to enjoy practicing their spelling or math facts on the computer via some nicely designed educational game, my boys were not fooled. That held absolutely no appeal. Lego Star Wars, Webkinz world, or even Farmtown on Facebook are much more likely to capture and hold their interest.

The thing is, learning can come in lots of ways. They know an awful lot about how to work a computer, a skill which will no doubt serve them well. Could they learn this when they were older? Absolutely. But, having the skill certainly won't hurt. The video games they play require a great deal of problem solving - problems I admit I can't solve. I am horrible at video games. I can't figure out how to play them, much less win at them. They, however, manage to achieve quite a level of success at this, which leads to a sense of accomplishment. That's a pretty good lesson in itself - setting goals that matter to them and achieving them. Persistence is a good thing to have. Sometimes, there is even a more traditional educational lesson thrown in - for example, on Farmtown, they need to figure out which crop will provide the greatest return for their investment and work.

Reading the most recent edition of The Catholic Observer, I was happy to read the article "OMG! Researchers discover that texting improves classroom performance" by Erick Rommel of the Catholic News Service. While the main focus of the article was on texting, he mentioned that "Research presented at the 2008 convention of the American Psychological Association supports the theory that video games increase brain potential." So, while moderation is obviously to be encouraged and content of games monitored, allowing one's children to play video games is no longer a reason for guilt. Yes, one more thing we mothers can cross off that list!


Wing said...

You may think I'm crazy, but we let our daughter start playing on the laptop and play video games since she was 2. Some of them are "educational", some are not. I don't view video games differently than any other activities in the day, and neither does she. I think games and TVs are fine as long as you don't use them as substitutes for proper parenting or as baby-sitters.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

I don't think you are crazy! Our kids have been playing since around that age as well.

janeflores said...

I'm also a parent, she just turned 2 and also interested in computers and I won't be bothered if she play games in the internet, there's this website that's really cool, it is a game provider where kids can learn Math, computers, music and my favorite... Geography, what makes it different is their reward system that will make your kids want to play more and learn more... if you're kids would love to own I-Pods, Wii and other stuffs, you should try out YourKidsClub games, I've tried playing it with my kid and she enjoyed it, I think the reward system will make the older kids want to play more. They can earn points from playing then use the points to bid for the items that are in auction.

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