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Is all video gaming bad for kids brains?

Right now many kids are home on spring break. They may be getting restless and spending way too much time on their electronics playing video games. Sure, it keeps them occupied and out of trouble, but we've come to learn that too much gaming isn't always a good thing. Spending too much time being inactive is linked to childhood obesity, and according to a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there is a positive correlation between the diagnosis of childhood ADHD and video gaming for more than an hour a day. But not all news about gaming and brain development is bad. In an article entitled "Study: Training Games Help Students Improve Cognitive Skills," games like Luminosity actually help the brain's cognitive abilities. And other studies are taking a multidimensional approach, claiming that some simple games, such as Angry Birds, can help improve a bad mood and decrease anxiety. There is even evidence that certain types of games can improve problem solving abilities and spacial skills.

Research into brain development
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

With conflicting evidence, it's difficult to make knowledgeable choices. The rules always seem to change when it comes to parenting, and there is no one-size-fits-all. My own advice would be to take the ere on the side of caution. Let them play games that are linked to improved abilities and function, but don't let them spend all their free time playing video games. Monitor them when they are playing online games that involve other (possibly adult) players. But then color with them, play with them, make up stories, read books, and take them to the park. We can't learn everything we need to be successful in this world through technology.

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