Video Games: Good or Bad? New Research and Some Handy Guidelines
It’s summer and many parents are concerned with the amount of time their kids may be spending playing video games. Time spent apart, many parents are bothered by a more important question – how do video games affect children? Are they good or bad?
Recent research published by the University of Michigan offers some help in answering both questions. The study underscores what seems pretty obvious – “playing video games is not in itself good or bad for children…the type of content in the game has a bigger impact than the overall amount of time spent playing”. The most salient finding, however, is that prosocial video games can make children “kinder and more likely to help—not hurt—other people.” (The term “prosocial” describes video games that “involve characters who help and support each other in nonviolent ways.”) Dozens of studies in the past have pointed to a direct relationship between violent video games and aggressive behaviors, so this study does offer some salve to parents who ensure that their kids don’t play violent video games.
In this video University of Michigan professor Brad Bushman talks about about this study, and also validates the oft-suggested 2-hour limit for media exposure in a day.
Unfortunately the study does not offer any help or suggestions on which video games they would recommend as “prosocial” and non-violent. The SmartBean parent team takes an unequivocal stand in this regard — only games rated ‘E’ or ‘E10+’ should be considered acceptable.
More on Video Games:
- Official ESRB ratings for video games and what they mean.
- SmartBean articles on video games and learning, here and here.
- Don’t Bother Me Mom–I’m Learning! - Acclaimed book by Marc Prensky on video games and learning.
- Award-winning video games for kids of all ages categorized by age, platform and genre.