“It’s such a beautiful day outside, so why are you inside playing video games?”
Video games actually provide an excellent social outlet for kids. The stereotype of a nerdy video gamer who sits in his mom’s basement all day and never actually socializes or has any friends is more myth than reality. Studies have shown that kids that play online games develop a higher level of social sophistication and interaction than those who don’t.
This is not a suggestion to replace a kid’s offline social contacts with online gaming socialization, but rather shows that the broad spectrum of people that one comes into contact with through online gaming can vastly widen a child’s understanding of the world and how to relate to a wide variety of people.
Video games bolster creativity. Games these days are no longer simply jumping barrels hurled by a gorilla, but are deep with complex issues and story lines. They challenge the gamer to employ creative ways to solve puzzles and progress through the game. Real-time strategy games, for example, have all the nuances and intricacy of chess. While some game genres are more involved than others in engendering creativity. Even “simple” games such as SSX on PlayStation 3 are not just fun, but require a gamer to plan and implement a strategy.
There is, finally, perhaps the most obvious reason video games can be helpful to kids: They improve hand-eye coordination. While this might not seem important at first glance, it is actually quite significant. Remember those kids you are hoping to get outside to play some sports? Athletes actually use video games to improve hand-eye coordination. Surgeons, mechanics, and even artists have been shown to work with greater precision and efficiency if the play video games.
So, mom, the next time those kids moan when you beg them to go outside and enjoy the nice weather, remember that they’re not simply frittering their lives away on those video games. They are actually improving themselves in sometimes imperceptible ways.