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Video Games and Spatial Skills

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Not unlike many parents, I worry. Okay, I worry a lot. All right, all right, I worry constantly, but I'm working on that and I think I've got it under control, most days. One thing I worry about in particular is the media. I've had moments of such deep regret that I didn't throw out every electronic device in existence the day I gave birth to my firstborn and run away with him that I still consider doing it; in fact, just about ever other day.

My sons are well-rounded individuals, but, like most young boys in industrialized nations, they enjoy computer and video games.

I have always limited their playing time, or their "screen time" as people say, but I still worry about it and have chewed my nails off in anxiety wondering whether or not I am about to rip them off of the computer and just pay them to, well, do 50 jumping jacks and stand on their heads for an hour. The only time I'm not really worried about my children is when we're out and about, doing something outdoors, on the beach, at a lake, hiking or biking, or when we're playing board games. But of course at those times I worry about myself because I often simply force myself to keep my eyes open and finish sinking someone's battleship with no real joy whatsoever.

But I heard something on the radio the other day that reduced my guilt and just made me feel warm and cozy, even though I take everything I read and hear with large grains of salt.

It seems, according to the research, that video games can actually increase a person's spatial skills, which means in part their ability to visualize three dimensional objects in their minds. Not unlike professional musicians, they are also using less brain power to achieve very complex maneuvers involving higher order thinking and their hands than non-gamers. In women who have had difficulty with spatial thinking, being "trained" on certain types of video games enhanced their abilities. Multitasking and making rapid fire synaptic connections were also increased. The conclusion of the program was, essentially, good parents will monitor the gaming of their children and will ensure they play in moderation.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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