composite of boy leaping through air in front of retro video game graphics (all images)

Are Video Games Good for You?

Eleven-year-old Jackson Vacek lives in Texas. Two of his good friends live in Ohio and Illinois. Those states are hundreds of miles away from Jackson. But he still gets to hang out with his pals for a few hours each week. Jackson plays Minecraft with them over the internet. He says it’s a good way to stay connected.

“It’s fun to play with them on the Xbox because it’s not like I can go to their house or anything,” Jackson says.

Many parents, including Jackson’s, allowed their children to spend more time playing video games last year. Parents say that, while much of the U.S. was shut down, gaming let kids escape from the real world. They also said it helped kids keep in touch with friends.

But other people argue that staring at a screen for hours at a time does more harm than good. They point out that playing video games can be bad for kids’ health. Some say gaming can isolate people from family and friends.

Who’s right? Are video games good for you or not?

Parents have long complained that video games are a waste of time. But in recent years, researchers have found that playing certain games can have benefits. They say that some games can help improve concentration and memory and even boost creativity.

Jeff Haynes works for Common Sense Media. He reviews video games for kids. Haynes says that gaming has upsides, as long as kids don’t overdo it and they stick with appropriate games. For example, playing video games with others can help kids learn how to use teamwork to reach goals.

“Being able to work with others is a vital skill,” Haynes explains, “whether you’re playing a video game, working at a company, or interacting with other people in real life.”

Playing video games can even turn into a career. More than 240,000 people in the U.S. work in the video game industry. That includes people who develop and test new games.

86% of parents say teens spend too much time playing video games.

Many people argue that too much gaming can be bad for kids. They say activities like reading and playing sports can have the same benefits as playing video games, but without all the downsides.

Experts point out that sitting around playing video games leaves less time in the day for exercising. Too much gaming can also lead to health problems, such as eye strain and neck, back, and wrist pain. Pushing buttons on a controller over and over again can lead to an injury called gamer’s thumb.

Playing video games can also distract kids from more important things. Last year, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Michigan released a survey of parents about their teens’ gaming habits. Many parents reported that video games interfered with their teen’s homework and sleep. Nearly half said gaming got in the way of family activities.

“You can spend so much time playing a game that you wind up literally disconnecting yourself from your family and friends,” Haynes says.

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