Possible Health Benefits From Video Games (In Moderation) You Won’t Believe
Surprisingly, there are certain possible health benefits from video games (in moderation) that you wont believe. Read on to know more…
Ask any kid between the ages of 8 and 18, and they swear (on your life!) that video games are actually good for them. Before you roll your eyes and dismiss their favorite activity as more unnecessary brain-rotting rubbish, consider that your child could be right. In a way. Hear me out.
Game disorders can be a concern for some parents, and I believe all kids should have their screen time monitored and restricted to some extent. But keeping your children away from the game altogether might be a bit too extreme for you. In this day and age, gaming can be a preparation for the upcoming high-tech society run by savvy humanoids. So what can you do? Moderate, instead of ban! There are plenty of good reasons for gaming, and these ones don’t come from your kids!
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Possible Health Benefits From Video Games (In Moderation) You Won’t Believe
1. Helps with Stress, Anxiety, And Depression
There’s been a long debate over whether depression and anxiety are a root cause or can exacerbate a case of depression. Images of gamers as basement-dwelling anti-social nerds certainly doesn’t help. But some recent research shows the opposite is true. Video games offer a distraction from the noise and chaos of the world around you, by keeping your brain engaged on multiple levels and move the focus away from the source of anxiety or stress.
In fact, video games are so successful a distraction, that de-stressing apps like Happify and Headspace use distraction games and point-scoring, to teach meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy skills.
With anything that involves your kids though, there is no one truth that applies to every child. And there is always research that contrasts the findings of other data. For instance, the use of smartphones has been linked to an increase in anxiety and depression among children.
So whatever you decide, observe your child closely, follow your gut and make your own decision: in the end you, as a parent, often know best.
2. Helps Keep Your Brain Fit
Multi-tasking is a tough skill to master. But studies show that kids who play 30 minutes of action adventure games a day develop better multitasking skills than kids who play casual games. Video games are designed to be immersive, and the faster-paced the game is, the faster your decision-making processes will get. Add to that, the constantly reinforced connection between your child’s brain and hands can improve hand-eye coordination, and cooperation between different areas of the brain. That can help your child become a better, faster multi tasker, too!
(Pssst…here’s an idea: let your teen earn gaming minutes by applying their multi-tasking powers to dirty dishes and KonMari laundry folding)
3. Helps With Concentration
I’m as guilty of it as the next parent. My kids have the attention span of a fruit fly, and I catch myself thinking, “I was definitely never that spacey at their age. Must be the video games.” But nope. Research point to the hours in front of the video game as actually improving concentration skills, especially, as we’ve already mentioned, for children with ADHD, who may struggle with an inability to concentrate, if they are over-stimulated, or not stimulated enough.
Of course, video games, like everything else, should be used in moderation. Mix up your gameplay, and avoid focusing too hard on a single game, to prevent a child from burning out or developing a video game addiction while encouraging concentration skills.
4. Encourages Exercise
Want your child to appreciate the great outdoors more? Get him a video game! No really. The success of motion-based games like Wii Sports has actually been shown to boost confidence, and encourage kids to learn new physical skills, even in the most reluctant athletes. And real-time games like Pokemon Go and it’s many iterations encourage your child to go outside and play, and connect with other players, too!
5. Helps Build Confidence
It’s true that too much obsessing over a single game may indicate an underlying problem. Especially when it comes at the cost of other hobbies and interests your child used to enjoy. But often, taking part in video games is a huge confidence boost. In moderation, it’s a hobby like any other and comes with its own skill set, language, and community. If your child struggles socially with peers, mastering the latest video game can give him a way to connect.
6. Improves Social Skills
The persistent image of the gamer as a loner/loser does not always apply. Creating a social environment around gaming is easy. Kids love to show off what they’re passionate about. If you’re finding your child’s gaming habits are keeping her away from social activities, work around it. Institute a family game policy, and keep the games in shared areas in the house. If your child would rather play video games than sports, have them invite friends over. Video games, when shared with everyone, are a great way to learn fairness and co-operation.
Sidenote: I have discovered that as an adult, I still have a long way to go when it comes to losing gracefully from my children.
7. Encourages Persistence And Problem Solving
One of the more positive aspects of video gaming is that because games are designed to keep you playing, your child can learn problem-solving skills in a fun way. Video games have been shown to improve problem-solving and stress management in children. They may also be vital in encouraging habits of persistence. These are transferable skills that go way beyond the scope of a video game!
With all these benefits, what can you do to ensure healthy gaming habits in your kids? Follow these steps to avoid burning out, or developing a video game addiction or disorder.
1. Set Reasonable Limits
With the glut of screen time our kids are getting these days, setting reasonable time constraints on how much screen time they get isn’t a bad idea. Consider the age of the child and the amount of time they already spend at a screen, thanks to school, friends, or other sources. You may also consider using screen time as a reward for chores, or good behavior.
2. Monitor What They’re Doing
I’m not asking you to spy on your kid or watch them play for hours at a time. But keep an eye on things. Talk to your child about their video game use, what games they’re playing, and what they’re interested in. It allows you to stay on top of what’s motivating your child’s playing, and stop any problems before they develop. Plus, kids love sharing their interests!
3. Mix Up Gameplay
This doesn’t mean buying every console on the market. But having a variety of games available, and turning games into a family activity, helps avoid the selfish, antisocial behaviors that can lead to problems. Keep a variety of games and game types around, and get everyone in the house playing!
4. Encourage Gaming As A Social Activity
Speaking of everyone playing along. A family challenge is a great way to keep games social and public. Try a weekly Wii-Fit challenge, or ask your child to teach you to play his favorite. Reinforcing that games are meant to be social, and for everyone, fosters healthy habits that avoid aggression when the game is taken away. It’s also an excellent chance for you to bond over your embarrassment, which the kids will love.
Love them or hate them, video games are a part of our kids’ lives. And like anything else, there are upsides and downsides. But by embracing and getting engaged with your child’s video game habits, you can prevent problems, and encourage all the useful skills a child can pick up from a few minutes a day with a video game console.
What is your take on possible health benefits from video games (in moderation) ? Let me know in the comments below.