Increased Screen Time and Some Positive Effects of Playing Video Games

By Caitlin Bootsma

Almost everyone has heard the detrimental effects of too much screen time and non-stop gaming. Yet, there is another side of the gaming coin. Would it surprise you to know that there are some good fruits of playing games on the computer or a video console? As caring adults, making some practical decisions about video/internet game playing is more important than ever since everyone has spent so much more time at home during the pandemic.

In one incredible example, a 14-year old boy helped to save a life when he reached out to another online player who is having suicidal thoughts. These boys certainly are not the only ones who have found community, and even true friendship, through games—as both kids and even adults will attest.

Depending on the game and environment, here are just a few other things kids can learn from gaming:

  • Problem-solving, logic, and strategy
  • Spatial reasoning and fine motor skills
  • Collaboration and community
  • Planning and analysis
  • Situational awareness
  • Reading and math skills
  • Geography and navigational skills
  • Strengthening memory
  • Working under pressure (particularly time)

Have you ever seen kids benefit from exercising these skills through video games?

As caregivers, we have the responsibility to make prudent judgements, weighing these benefits against some of the downsides of gaming (lack of attention to other things, digital addiction, potential of risk with regard to others who don't have the best intentions, etc.). If you do decide to let your kids play age-appropriate games, setting time limits, only having them play games in shared spaces in the house, and choosing which games they can play and monitoring the interactions will help them get the most out of their gaming time.

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