You’ve probably heard reasons why playing video games isn’t good for kids. But did you know that research shows that video games may also have benefits? This is especially true if parents choose games carefully and set limits on how often their kids play them.
Here are some of the surprising learning and health benefits of gaming.
1. Video games may improve focus.
Some people think that playing video games decreases kids’ attention span. But researchers say the opposite may be true. Brain scans show that kids who regularly play are better able to filter out distractions than nongamers are.
2. Video games may improve problem-solving skills.
Puzzle games, such as 2048, and role-playing games, such as World of Warcraft, can build problem-solving skills. Researchers say kids who play these types of games show improvement in three key areas: planning, organization and flexible thinking. It’s not clear how much of that carries over into real life, however.
3. Video games may boost creativity.
There’s a link between playing video games, like Minecraft, and being creative—at least among middle school kids. Researchers gave 12-year-old gamers tests that asked them to draw, tell stories, ask questions and make predictions. All of the kids had high levels of creativity and curiosity.
4. Video games may reduce stress.
Simple video games that don’t require a lot of thought, such as Angry Birds, can help kids relax. Low-key games with simple graphics and that don’t take a lot of time to play may improve mood and reduce anxiety. Part of the reason may be that the games make it easy for kids to be successful.
It’s still a good idea to put limits on the type of video games your child plays—and the amount of time. But you may want to think twice before you ban them altogether. You can boost the benefits by choosing games and apps that are great for your child’s age and needs.