Kids and Video Games: Beneficial or Mind-Sucking Babysitter?

I have been a gamer my whole life, having first grasped the stick of an Atari 2600 as a toddler and declared Nintendo to be the one true god in 1985. If I were to add up all the hours I've spent battling pixilated evil, it would be a very large and probably embarrassing number. Of course, I get paid to tell you all about it now, so I consider it time well spent.

The question remains, though: How exactly do video games affect the minds and development of the children who play them their whole adolescence? I'm not just talking about technological quirks like the damage a 3DS can do to the eye muscles of a child under the age of six. I mean, what effect is modern gaming having on the behavior and psyches of children?

The pro side of the argument is always quick to hold up the Wii as a shining example of the benefits gaming can give children. After all, the entire system is based on the idea of movement, with sports games, adventure games and even side-scrollers like Donkey Kong Country Returns requiring at least a little bit of muscular exertion to play correctly. Surely, by encouraging motion during video game play, it would set a child on a path to physical fitness as a norm.

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner