NYT reports that playing video games is good for kids:

Researchers are reporting today that first-person-shooter video games — the kind that require players to kill or maim enemies or monsters that pop out of nowhere — sharply improve visual attention skills.

Experienced players of these games are 30 percent to 50 percent better than nonplayers at taking in everything that happens around them, according to the research, which appears today in the journal Nature. They identify objects in their peripheral vision, perceiving numerous objects without having to count them, switch attention rapidly and track many items at once.

Nor are players simply faster at these tasks, said Dr. Daphne Bavelier, an associate professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Rochester, who led the study. First-person action games increase the brain’s capacity to spread attention over a wide range of events. Other types of action games, including those that focus on strategy or role playing, do not produce the same effect.

While none of this is surprising to me, it is clearly a result that many will find alarming. But it seems obvious that doing things that require intense concentration and fast reflexes will, well, improve one’s concentration and reflexes.

As an aside, I was listening to Don Imus on the way to work this morning and when Paul Begala cited a NYT story as proof of some claim he was making, Imus chimed in with something to the effect of, “Yeah. But we haven’t seen that in the Washington Post yet, so we don’t have verification.” Ah, how the mighty have fallen.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. MommaBear says:

    Anyone using the WaPo for verification needs a reality check!

  2. April says:

    Thanks for depriving me of any reasonable arguments against my husband’s Gamecube addiction.

  3. Tiger says:

    If it ain’t been reported in the Weekly World News, it ain’t true!