Why video games are good for kids

Video games can isolate children socially and distract them from homework, right? In fact, they may not be so bad for kids after all.

Why video games are good for kids

Source: Best Health Magazine, January/February 2010

Researchers have found that kids who clock regular console time may have better-developed brains. Plus, video games can improve their hand’eye coordination, their grip on science and even their IQ.

In 2009, the Mind Research Network in New Mexico and the Montreal Neurological Institute found that when 12- to 15-year-old girls played Tetris for 30 minutes a day, regions of their cerebral cortex became thicker than those of girls who didn’t play video games. Some of these regions are associated with critical thinking, reasoning and language.

That backs up a 2002 U.K. study of 700 children, aged seven to 16, which found that simulation and adventure games, such as Sim City and RollerCoaster Tycoon, developed children’s strategic thinking and planning skills.

Bishop John Robinson Primary School in London, England, actually started a pilot project where students, aged nine to 10, used 16 Nintendo DS consoles to play Maths Training Game. The kids were so engaged that other classes are now sharing the consoles, and some students have asked their parents to buy the games to use at home. Video games are now a regular part of the school’s curriculum.

What video games should kids play?

David Hutchison, chair of the department of teacher education at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., and author of Playing To Learn, agrees that video games can help kids learn. So which ones should parents buy for their kids to play at home? LittleBigPlanet for the PS3, and most E-rated [suitable for ages 10 and up] racing games are good choices,’ he says. ‘Racing games can be good for teaching math skills.’

This article was originally titled "Video games: Actually, they’re not bad for kids" in the January/February issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!’and make sure to check out what’s new in the latest issue of Best Health.