I am a cool mom, but I’m not a mom who likes video games. In fact, I really dislike them. I hate seeing my kids (or anyone’s kids) blipping away in front of a game when the sun is shining outside or there’s homework or chores to be done. However, I am married to a gamer and I birthed four of them (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…), so I’m trying to keep cool about things, as long as it’s in moderation. I did some research, and there are some surprising benefits of playing video games. Here are some of them:
- It gives kids a safe place to socially interact. If they play a MMO or MMORPG (if you’re a gamer you’ll know the term…), they must interact with people in their various quests and missions. As long as you take some basic precautions and make sure they’re interacting with safe people, this is not bad. Psychologists say that it’s healthy for them to have a virtual life, one where they feel empowered and aren’t as socially awkward as in “real life.”
- It improves hand-eye coordination and reaction time. Although you may disapprove of violence, games that involve shooting, pointing, aiming, etc., can actually improve someone’s hand-eye coordination and their response and reaction times. The US military and others have begun integrating these kinds of programs in their training, but it hails all the way back to flight simulators and wargames.
- They can get some exercise. Yes, this is a recent development, but the Nintendo Wii, Xbox Kinect and other physical interaction games promote better health. There are games that make kids dance, play golf and tennis, etc., which is a very healthy development.
- It encourages competition in a healthy way. Gamers get to strut their stuff on the screen in a myriad of ways; they get to pit themselves against imaginary and real opponents in a platform that doesn’t discriminate against the non-athletic kid or the one with the physical disability. They get to set goals and achieve them, besting their own scores and breaking their own records.
- They get to decompress. School is tough: dealing with academic, social, and other pressures during the day can be stressful. Games provide an outlet to vent frustration, pent-up energy and emotion, and simply “decompress”.