The upside of video games...

Tech Talk Tuesday #67: The upside of video games

I strongly believe that one of the most powerful aspects of Tech Talk Tuesday is starting the discussion with something positive about the tech in our lives. Kids are so used to hearing our negatives about tech time, that they may start to tune out if the discussion if it is not balanced. If we really want to have effective dialogue that creates a lasting tech balance with our kids, we need to talk about the positives too. Believe me, your kids will want to hear this week’s TTT.

I recently read a controversial article in American Psychologist, the journal of the American Psychological Association, about why video games can have some benefits. I say controversial because there clearly are very pro-violent video games. Improved reflexes and faster processing of their environment after playing shooter video games were some of the study’s findings. The authors of "The Benefits of Playing Video Games" write:

“Compared to control participants, those in the shooter video game show... higher spatial resolution in visual processing, and enhanced mental rotation abilities.”

Ask your kids if they feel any cognitive benefits after they’ve played a video game and they are doing another activity.

Next, share this excerpt from the same article with your kids:  

“Gaming may be among the most efficient and effective means by which children and youth generate positive feelings. Several studies have shown a causal relation between playing preferred video games and improved mood or increases in positive emotion.”

After you read this excerpt to your kids, talk with them about what kinds of feelings they experience right after they play a fun video game. Then, ask them if they ever have sad or hard feelings during the day and, if so, do they then have an urge to play the game that makes them feel good.

Questions to continue the conversation:

  • How many hours do you think you spend gaming each week?
  • What are the positives you think you get from playing video games?
  • Are there other activities that generate similar positive feelings?