Video Games Benefits

(WTNH-July 21, 2005 2:15 PM)
by Dr. Mike Rosen
Many people will argue that video games are nothing but bad for kids. And no doubt, there’s a growing body of researching which points to the problems associated with video games. But are they all bad?
Kiera, who’s eight, and Imani, who’s 10, are two new friends forced together by less than desirable circumstances. They’re sharing some good times playing video games, which are helping them endure their stay in the hospital.
“It’s not bad but it helps you, it helps you to get better,” says Kiera.
Imani’s visit is hopefully the only one she’ll experience for a long time--she has a bad infection in her leg due to a mosquito bite. But Andrea has sickle cell, and is in a pain crisis right at this moment. “Sometimes I do stuff to make me forget about it, play with Kiera or play video games or games and watch TV.” Says Imani.
Video games are great for the control of pain especially in the hospital and emergency room setting that’s because the games require such a high degree of attention they actually distract the player away from the pain.
“It’s helping them feel like they are mastering their environment and so it’s increasing their self-esteem.” Ronie Gaboff is a child life specialist. “Very often you will have a child in isolation because of medical situation or maybe they are restricted to bed rest. It’s also giving them a sense of maybe moving, maybe when they are skiing down the road or doing the kind things that the treatment has interrupted in their lives.”
Video games are used in chemotherapy clinics, in physical and occupational therapy, and for kids not in the hospital, they help develop social skills, and special abilities.
Video games are also beneficial for autism and other learning disabilities.
Experts say, they won’t hurt and may help when used in moderation.
Dr. Rona Novick, a child psychologist at Schneider Children’s Hospital, says, “There’s a lot of research about some of the pluses of video games, like the eye-hand coordination, intellectual skills and cognitive skills that can develop on video games, but again it’s not only video games that can develop those skills, there are plenty of children who are developing them, building with Lego’s or doing other tasks.”
For Kiera and Andrea, they definitely help the healing process. But video games aren’t their first choice if they had it their way.
“I wish I was at home playing in the front yard and I wish there were no mosquitoes biting me,” shrugs Kiera.
Now we need to point out that, yes, there is the risk of addiction, aggressive behaviors, and several physical disabilities associated with overuse, including strain injuries to the hand and obesity.
But again, used in moderation, video games do have a role in helping kids grow, and even heal.

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