Playing Video Games–Some Real Benefits for Kids

Update August 23,2014— The video interview to which this post was originally linked has been taken down–so sorry. But the information is summarized below and very much worth reading. Also, some incredibly interesting articles on the subject of gaming and its benefits are now linked below.

Original Post–

If you worry about your kids playing video games too much, the research in the above interview may be of some real help in knowing when to pull the plug and what types of games to encourage. According to the studies presented here, video games have some definite benefits if the time is capped off at no more than 21 hours a week, still quite a chunk of time. But there are some other criteria as well for gaming to be beneficial:

  1. The games must be hard enough–so hard that players fail 80% of the time
  2. The games that are best are those which are collaborative in nature–team based games rather than just solitary competition.

Those are two pretty big caveats, but still this can give parents something to aim at other than just limiting time spent. I especially loved factor #1. It reminded me of an interview I heard with the inventor of Spanx, Sara Blakely, who is a self-made billionaire. She said that when she was growing up, her dad used to ask her everyday when he got home, “What did you fail at today?” He wanted to train her to think in terms of trying new things and not worrying about the outcome as much as just the experience. I loved that! I couldn’t get it out of my head. Made me think of Darkwing Duck’s maxim “Let’s get dangerous!” darkwingMy daughter gave me an Atlanta artist’s rendition of Darkwing for my wall that has been an encouragement to me many times to go out on that limb, trust God, and see what happens. The second factor is interesting too because it’s easy as a parent or teacher not to encourage collaborative efforts enough in anything. As a homeschooling mom, I don’t remember requiring many team-effort style projects for my kids’ schoolwork. My children were often doing the same lesson along side each other, of course, but collaboration was not usually necessary. Perhaps my son wouldn’t have hated those team projects in computer science at Ga. Tech as much later on if he’d had more experience. The video includes more info than I’m giving you here and continues with studies being done to use games specifically designed to help with depression.

If you want to learn more:

As I searched to find the online interview that was removed, I found massive new statistics that are coming out on the benefits of gaming.  As a homeschooling mom I was used to thinking video games were the enemy trying to steal my children away from more productive activities. There still needs to be a balance, of course, but these articles were eye opening for me. I have weeded out the two I liked best that challenged my assumptions. I would encourage you to read them if you’re interested or concerned as I was.

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