Friday, April 24, 2009

When Is 2 Much?

TheParenting Continuum hosted a bag lunch discussion this afternoon with speaker: Dr. Tonja Krautter Raising Boys in a Digital World. Questions of what constitutes 'screen' time? How much is too much? What types of games are they playing? Does this interfere with the development of our boy's communication and socialization skills.

The focus was really how to maintain a healthy parent/child relationship while placing limits. Speaker Dr. Tonja Krautter, Psy.D., L.C.S.W, has been named one of the National Top Mental Health Practitioners in the nation, and has been mentioned as one of Cambrian’s Who’s Who of Doctors in the United States of America.
Dr. Krautter opened up the discussion with an interestingly positive notion concerning video game use. Sighting a recent study of how video games that involve high levels of action, such as first-person-shooter games, increase a player's real-world vision, according to research in the March Issue of Nature Neuroscience. The ability to discern slight differences in shades of gray has long been thought to be an attribute of the human visual system that cannot be improved. But Daphne Bavelier, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, has discovered that very practiced action gamers become 58 percent better at perceiving fine differences in contrast.

"When people play action games, they're changing the brain's pathway responsible for visual processing. These games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it. Ability to Perceive Changes in Shades of Gray Improves up to 58 Percent.. Amazing right?

Speaker Dr. Tonja Krautter also outlined the not so Rosie side of video game use: addiction.
The question looms- what makes a game addictive. Is it the gore & guts factor? Fantasy aggressive play as an outlet? The University of Rochester also posted the following study that shows: Violence Does Not Motivate Video Game Players. Motivation comes from the healthy pleasure of mastering a challenge rather than from a disturbing craving for carnage. A Harris Poll survey found that 8.5% of youths 8 to 18 who play video games show collective signs of addiction that psychologists know exist in pathological gamblers.

The responsibility is ours to hold game developers accountable. The rating system for video games along with the integrity of marketing to the appropriate age level needs to be policed, but by whom you ask? Us. We are the parents, and as we want our children to have a sense of adventure and quest for learning . Sometimes reminding the corporate game world to remember: blood, violence and inappropriate sexual innuendo does not help the bottom line.

Looking for more of a safety net to research this sort of stuff? My favorite site is Common Sense Media. I like to think of them as the Consumer reports for the parental demographic.

The most important tid-bit of information learned today, play the games before purchasing. Knowledge really IS power.

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