Video Game Playing? Bad or Good?

The other day my husband sent me a link to an article about Autistic boys and “problematic video game playing.” The article states:

Boys with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder were more likely to spend excessive amounts of time playing video games than those with typical development, researchers found.

Problematic video game use is defined as difficulty disengaging from gaming and higher levels of addictive game use.

I have no argument with the conclusions reached. I definitely have seen this myself. However, I know quite a few other “quirky” people (with no “label” like a learning disability or Autism) who also have trouble disengaging from games and, at times, use games a bit addictively.

The advice of the Dr. Max Wiznitzer is to set firm limits for game playing, use games as a reward for other things accomplished (homework, chores, etc.) and to limit access to the games so that kids don’t end up quietly playing games all night long in their bedrooms.

All these things make perfect sense…. but then I also see the “other” side of the story, which I think is best explained by game designer, Jane McGonigal in her excellent TED talks:

Could it possibly be that the tendency for immersion in video games might be the path to problem-solving in the “real world?” Lots of these kids are intensely successful in the virtual-world of gaming, but very challenged in the “real-world.”

How can we turn the natural “obsessiveness” of gamers into something that can solve the problems in the world?

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