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Video gaming is everywhere. It’s popular with children as well as adults. There are definite negatives to video gaming such as playing so long that you neglect your responsibilities, shortening your attention span and being exposed to too much violence. We’ve all heard about these negatives.
But there are some definite upsides to video gaming both for children as well as you, the working mom.
Here are four benefits to video gaming.
1. Playing video games help children develop problem-solving skills and enhance their creativity.
There is a whole new generation of research into video games and its effect on learning. There’s been enough positive results thus far that people are using it experimentally to help people recover from strokes.
2. Video gaming improves fine motor skills.
Fine motor skills are the ability to use your hands well. Tasks that use these skills include tying your shoe laces, writing and even using utensils.
This is a very important skill for small children to develop, but skilled fine motor movements impact adults as well. In fact, one research study shows that video gaming improved surgical skills.
3. Video gaming helps you process your aggression.
In the world of psychiatry, we call this sublimation. Sublimation is a defense mechanism whereby you use an acceptable outlet to process unacceptable impulse. For example, if your coworker makes you stressed out and angry, you use boxing to help deal with your anger. This is not entirely conscious, or within your awareness. In other words, you don’t say to yourself – I want to punch my coworker, but I will practice on a punching bag instead. Instead, you may recognize you don’t like your coworker and you need a stress outlet. So you adopt this sport or other exercise that helps you feel better.
When it comes to your child, you do need to make sure the degree of violence is appropriate for his/her age. Many of these games will have ratings. Keep in mind that children accumulate aggression as well.
So these games allow your child to sublimate their aggression in a controlled environment. This is contrary to the idea that violent video games increase violence. In fact, there have been many studies on this issue and the most recent one published in late 2014 was a long-term study which came to the same conclusion that – thus far there is no link between violent video game uses and societal violence.
A few earlier studies even showed that video gaming decreased youth violence. The researchers suggested distraction as one possible explanation. It’s my opinion that sublimating anger also plays a role in how playing video games decreases the need for a child to act on their pent up aggression.
4. Video games can help kids be more social.
This can happen virtually when children interact online. Most games today are similar to social networks and allow children to “friend” each other and participate in others’ games. Children can also have in-person play dates where the main activity is playing video games.
So video games may be more helpful than you think. You do need to set limits on how much time your child spends, have a budget and parental controls. All good things need moderation.
As a working mom, you may want to join your child in the games if you don’t already for your own benefits of improving your dexterity so you can chop veggies better, sublimate your anger or frustrations of life and spend some more time with your child doing what she does. You can do this without feeling like you’re being a bad mom or feeling like you’re condoning something that is bad for your child. It really does have some benefits.
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Video gaming enhances psychomotor skills but not visuospatial and perceptual abilities in surgical trainees. J Surg Educ. 2011 Sep-Oct;68(5):414-20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21821223
Computer games and fine motor skills. Borecki L, Tolstych K, Pokorski M. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;755:343-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22826085
Ferguson, CJ. Does Media Violence Predict Societal Violence? It Depends on What You Look at and When. Journal of Communication Volume 65, Issue 1, pages E1–E22, February 2015 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcom.12129/full