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  • Writer's pictureJody B. Miller

Why Video Games Can Make Your Child a Genius

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

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Allowing children to play video games can have numerous benefits when done in moderation and as part of a balanced lifestyle. Here's an exploration of the potential advantages, supported by examples and research findings:

Stress Relief:

  • Playing video games can be an effective way for children to unwind and relieve stress. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that short-term play can reduce stress and improve mood, as long as the gaming is not excessive.

  • Games often transport players into a different world, which can act as a form of escapism from day-to-day stressors like school pressure or social anxiety.

Downtime and Entertainment:

  • Just as adults watch TV shows or read books for downtime, video games can serve a similar purpose for children, offering a way to relax and enjoy leisure time.

  • A review in Pediatrics noted that moderate video game play can be part of a healthy recreational activity for children when balanced with other activities.

Cognitive Benefits:

  • Certain games improve cognitive functions such as problem-solving, spatial awareness, and strategic planning. Research published in American Psychologist suggests that action video games, for example, can improve spatial skills which are essential in fields like mathematics, engineering, and technology.

  • Puzzle games and strategy games have been particularly noted for their cognitive benefits. For instance, playing games like "Tetris" or "StarCraft" can lead to better problem-solving skills and multitasking abilities.

Educational Enhancement:

  • Many video games have educational content, whether directly through problem-solving and puzzles or indirectly by incorporating historical scenarios and scientific facts.

  • Games like "Civilization" can spark an interest in history and culture, while "Minecraft" can be used to teach resource management and even basic programming with its Redstone logic.

Social Connections:

  • Online multiplayer games can provide social benefits by connecting children with their peers, helping them to learn teamwork and communication skills.

  • A study from Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that playing prosocial games can increase helpful behaviors in children.

Motor Skills and Coordination:

  • Video games, particularly action games, can help improve motor skills. A study in the journal PLOS ONE reported improvements in the manual dexterity and coordination of surgeons who played video games.

  • Games that require precise timing and coordination, like rhythm games or sports games, can enhance hand-eye coordination.

Emotional Resilience:

  • Games often present challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome, which can teach children persistence and resilience.

  • A study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research suggested that some games can improve mood and heart rhythms, indicating a potential calming effect after stressful situations.

Increased IQ:

  • While the direct relationship between gaming and increased IQ is complex and debated, aspects of video games such as puzzles and problem-solving can contribute to intellectual development.

  • For example, "Brain Age" and other brain-training games claim to help improve mental agility, though it's worth noting that evidence for any long-term IQ increase is mixed.

To ensure these benefits do not turn into detriments, it is crucial to set reasonable limits on screen time and choose age-appropriate games. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests consistent limits on the amount of time spent playing video games, as well as ensuring that it does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity, and other behaviors essential to health.

When video game playing is kept within reasonable limits and integrated into a healthy lifestyle, it can contribute positively to the mental, emotional, and social well-being of children. Parents and guardians can facilitate these benefits by participating in the gaming experience, thereby monitoring content and using it as another avenue to understand and educate their children.

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