Are video games rotting your child’s brain? The latest research suggests otherwise (and we promise your kid isn’t writing this). Video games can offer many benefits for children, from improved problem-solving to fostered social skills. But with so many games available and concerns about screen time, it can be tough to know where to start.
Dr. Meghan Hicks, Pediatrician at SCL Health Medical Group - Butte, has seen benefits and detriments to children playing video games.
“There are some benefits to video games, including learning computer and technology skills,” said Dr. Hicks. “The benefits have mostly been in response inhibition and working memory.”
Improved problem-solving skills
One of the most significant benefits of video games is their ability to improve their problem-solving. Many games require players to solve puzzles, overcome obstacles, and make decisions that affect the game's outcome. By playing these types of games, children develop critical thinking skills that can be applied to real-life situations.
Improved coordination and motor skills
Video games can also improve hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Many games require precise movements, and the repetitive nature can help children develop muscle memory and dexterity. These skills can be useful in everyday activities, such as writing, drawing, and sports.
Improved social skills
Another benefit of video games is that they can foster social skills. Multiplayer games, where children can play with friends or other players online, can help them develop communication and collaboration skills. These games often require players to work together to achieve a common goal, which can help children learn how to work as part of a team.
Improved learning abilities
In addition, video games can help children with learning difficulties. Some games are specifically designed to help children with conditions such as dyslexia, ADHD, and autism. These games often use visual aids and interactive elements to make learning more engaging and accessible!
But watch the screen time…
While video games have some benefits, it's important to limit screen time and choose age-appropriate games. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends children between the ages of 2 and 5 should have no more than one hour of screen time per weekday. Children between 6 and 18 should limit screen time as well, and aim for no more than two hours a day.
“The best way to encourage smart video game playing is to enforce limits,” said Dr. Hicks. “Setting timers can be helpful, and talking to your child about why it is important to limit screen time will help them understand why you are setting these limits.”
You should also be aware of the content of the games your children are playing. Games with violent or sexual content may not be appropriate for younger children. Make sure your kiddo’s video games are suitable for age and maturity level.
“Depending on the age of the child, it is helpful to encourage educational games and games that require problem solving and critical thinking skills,” said Dr. Hicks.
So no, video games aren’t rotting your kid’s brain, and have many benefits! They can help improve problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, social skills, and learning. However, it's important to limit screen time and choose age-appropriate games to ensure your children are getting the most of their gaming experience.