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In defense of video games

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By GreatSchools Staff

For aspiring artists

In Drawn to Life on the Nintendo DS, your child illustrates the hero for a world she helps create. The game revolves around saving a village of creatures called Raposas from the evil doings of a character named Wilfre. He has torn pages from the Raposas' Book of Life — the source of all things that exist in their world — and scattered them across the land, causing things like the moon, sun and stars to disappear. Watch your child save the Raposas! For ages 7 and up. Read the complete review at Common Sense Media.

For puzzle lovers

Crayon Physics Deluxe is a puzzle game set in a familiar, childlike environment of crumpled paper and crayon drawings. And yet, this seemingly juvenile setting contains a powerful physics engine that turns your scribblings into objects that have weight and mass. The game consists of 76 puzzles which all share the same goal: get the little red ball to roll over to the yellow star. The cursor is a crayon, and you can draw anything he imagines to solve the puzzle. For ages 8 and up. Read the complete review at Common Sense Media.

For engineering enthusiasts

SimCity 4 carries on the tradition of the SimCity series by allowing your child to be the all-powerful mayor of his own city. He'll zone land for residential and business developments; plan roads, the water system and the energy grid; trade with nearby cities; establish schools, hospitals and emergency services; and create parks and gardens. Graphs, charts and maps will aid his decisions, as will listening to residents called the Sims, a new element to the game. He can name individual Sims, decide where they will live, and then observe how his city-level decisions affect them. For ages 8 and up. Read the complete review at Common Sense Media.

For strategists

An unabashed tribute to Super Mario Brothers, Braid is a side-scrolling adventure loaded with nods to Nintendo's iconic plumber, including dangerous plants that pop out of pipes, cannons that spit out monsters, and clouds upon which the blue-suited hero can hitch rides. But Braid is much more than simple homage. Each of the game's six worlds features a different time-shifting mechanism that is used to decipher a series of mind-bending puzzles. Depending on the level and circumstance, time might slow down, enemies might move forward or backward, or the clock might stop altogether. Players can rewind the clock at any time and in any level. For ages 12 and up. Read the complete review at Common Sense Media.

A final note

Video games have a rating system, just like movies and TV shows. While some games encourage creativity and learning, others may be too violent or mature for your child. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a nonprofit organization that rates every video game, so remember to do research before you buy anything.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

06/8/2009:
"I am shocked at your promotion of video games for younger age groups. I have a step son who is a video/gaming addict. He is 21 and has stopped developing past the age of 14. He cannot keep a job, groom or take care of himself in any way unless micro managed and told to do so by his parents. He grew up in the midwest and moved to Southern California at age 19. He has never gone to the beach or seen the outdoors unless there is gaming involved of some kind. He constantly lies, spent all of his college money, became homeless, lost every job with no references all because of gaming being most important above any other basic responsibility. I have a new baby son who will never play a video game in our home. He's 13 months, loves being outside, music and playing with other kids. He is very advanced and doing things that 2 year olds do. I do not agree with this American mode of culture at all. Go to Disneyland and see the obese children & young parents in walkers because they are so large! It's shocking! Sticking dvd players in front of children at a restaurant should be illegal. I vote for your web content to promote the imaginations and minds of young people. Encourage them to go outside. Empower them to come up with the endings to their own little stories. "
06/2/2009:
"I am dissapointed that you would promote the use of video games for even preschoolers - sure there may be some learning involved in these, but there is MORE learning involved in collaborative environments with HUMANS, in making quick decisions such as the playground when a child is about to grab your truck and in many other ways. Let us not fall for the 'education' value of electronics when it substitutes for natural, human interactions."
06/2/2009:
"Commonsense Media is OK, but I highly recommend kids-in-mind.com. My feeling is that it is more objective. They state what is seen in each movie without judging whether it is good or bad. They leave that for you to decide. Kids-in-mind.com is the most helpful website I've ever seen. As for video games, it's not so easy to prevent addiction. Once kids have had white bread, they may simply refuse to eat the whole wheat. Once kids have gotten into the video habit, it may be an insurmountable battle to get them to do other things. It is possible to give kids some (and not too much) but many parents give in to the whining of their kids, and the kids end up getting way too much screen time. My kids get screen time once or twice a week - way less than the average child. My reasoning: if they are playing video games or watching TV, they are not doing chores, doing homework, getting exercise, socializing, or even daydreaming (which is very good for you). Some video time i! s OK, but think of everything they are NOT getting, when they are 'on-screen'."
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