Are Video Games Actually Good For Kids?

Generic: Video Games
Video gaming is a fact of life for nearly every American teen. And a new study says it may actually be good for them. CBS News science and technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg has the first in the series: "The Games Our Children Play."

Working on a story about video games means going to the experts. So Sieberg asked two teenage girls: "Are video games cool?"

One said, "Well, yeah, there are many definitions of 'cool.'"

But what's cool for parents is that a new study finds that all that time in front of a screen isn't such a bad thing.

"I think we have this image that people who play games are playing them alone in a dark basement and in fact what we found is that the majority of teens engage with other people most of the time," said Amanda Lenhart, of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, which supported the study.

Read the study here (75 pages).
Today's study of 1,102 teens shows that almost all teens - 97 percent - play video games, that kids often play with someone else (65 percent) and that the three most popular types of games are not violent. Instead, they involve racing, puzzles and sports."

"Super Monkey Ball, which is really fun," said Hannah Levine, a 7th grader.

"It's a racing game. We like it," said her friend and fellow 7th grader Zoe Kushlefsky.

"Kids are talking with each other, helping each other, sharing knowledge together," said Connie Yowell of the MacArthur Foundation, which also supported the study. "It's really peer-based learning going on.

That's because playing games often involves problem-solving, achieving goals or overcoming obstacles - skills that educators applaud.

"There's a real promise here to harness the enthusiasm of young people for games and to use that to help them learn things more effectively in the classroom," Lenhart said.

So parents, relax. You may not get it, or like it, but your kids are learning more than how to smash dinosaurs.