New research: Video games may be good for the brain

Mikey de Guzman is a typical 10- year-old, who loves to play video games.

His parents only let him play after he’s finished his homework and chores. Shelly, his mom, worries that video games could be bad for Mikey.

“I have concerns that if he plays too long it affects his social behavior,” she said.  “And  I don’t like the violence.”

She restricts the kind of games Mikey plays, and the time he plays them.  But how concerned does she need to be?

According to recent research, action based video games could have some positive effects on the brain.

According to a study at the University of Rochester, practiced, action-based game players can pay attention to more than six things at once without getting confused.  And they can make decisions 25 percent faster without sacrificing accuracy.

The benefits in the study seemed to roll over into real life affecting things like the ability to multi-task.  “It’s that concentrated emotional intensity related to making quick decisions and weighing probabilities.

Should I do this or should I do that? And if you do that over and over again, we do see some impact,” said Dr. Kevin Everhart PhD, with the University of Colorado Denver.  He says gamers learn to process information quickly and accurately.  “It appears to have some benefit- MAYBE,” he said.

That doesn’t mean kids should just have at it. Other studies link gaming to obesity, being introverted and prone to depression.

Dr. Everhart says more research is needed.  He still warns parents to restrict violent games and to make sure your child has a well rounded life. “Other things have to take priority,” he said.  He recommends a half hour to an hour of screen time a day.