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Video Game Playing in Groups May Improve Communication Skills

Playing video games as a group may help improve communication skills, according to a study by researchers in Scotland. Data shows that after two months of regularly playing video games in a group setting, a test group of students demonstrated improved communication skills, adaptability and resourcefulness. The researchers feel that having video game teams in schools, sanctioned the same way as football or baseball teams, could help students who do not want to (or are unable to) play traditional sports build the kind of life skills often gained by participation in those physical activities.

Game Jams

Do you have a child who is interested programming or wants to make a difference in the world? Something that might spark their interest is a game jam, a hackathon-type event where kids get together to design a computer game or app based on social issues such as immigration, climate change, or future cities. Want to know more? Check out this article called Taking Advantage of the Power of Play on the Edutopia site for ideas on how to get started.

Can Minecraft Boost Problem Solving and Empathy Skills?

Playing the video game Minecraft may help boost students' social and emotional skills, according to a recent survey from Getting Smart and Microsoft. Data shows that 86.6% of teachers who use the education version for group play in their classrooms said playing Minecraft had a positive effect on students' communication skills, including problem-solving (cited by 97.7 percent), creativity (95.5 percent), critical thinking (93.3 percent) and collaboration (91.1 percent).

Mean Males on Online Gaming Sites Are Literally Losers

According to a study that was recently published in the journal PLOS One, men who were worse players at online games than their peers tended to hurl more nastiness at female gamers. On the other hand, men who consistently perform well were nicer overall to both male and female players. This was found by a pair of researchers from the United States and Australia who examined interactions between players during 163 games of Halo 3 to determine when men were most likely to exhibit sexist, anti-social behavior toward their female peers. Takeaway for parents? Remind the gamer girls at your house that they still should let you know when comments go too far but to keep in mind that a lot of the vitriol they face online may just be raw jealousy.

Got a Young Gamer? Take a Minute to Learn 7 Safety Tips

If your kids love online gaming, it is important to keep up with the latest tips on how to keep them playing safely and smartly. Got just a minute to do that? Check out this video entitled 7 Easy Hacks for Parents of Young Gamers.

Parental Control on the New Nintendo Switch is a New App

Got a new Nintendo Switch gaming system at your house? Great news. It comes with a free Parental Controls mobile app that lets you set limits on just about everything from what time the device can be turned on, to what games can be played, to how many minutes a day it can be used. Check out the video on the site for a great overview. You can also limit sharing of in-game texts and images, and restrict the ability to send screen shots to social media.

Teens, Tech and Obesity – A New Study

A new study from the Journal of Pediatrics reports that teens who used screen devices, such as smartphones or tablets, for five or more hours daily had a twofold higher likelihood of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and were 43% more likely to become obese than those who didn't use such devices. The findings also showed a 74% increased risk of poor sleep among those who used screen devices for at least five hours daily. While only you know what effect screen devices has on your children, one dietician pointed out "If kids are playing video games on the computer while they're eating, they sometimes don't register an end to their hunger. Eating can become mindless rather than mindful, and they may not realize they are actually full." That’s just something to keep in the back of your mind for cold winter days when kids are glued to the couch playing video games.

Unexpected Political Activism on Club Penguin

Club Penguin, a Walt Disney Co. affiliate that is a virtual world designed for young kids, has become a venue for protests following the presidential election. Both supporters and protestors of President-Elect Donald Trump have been voicing their opinions about him on the app. This kind of protest may crop up on other kid oriented sites and apps as well, so even if your kids are not Club Penguin users, it is probably still a good idea to discuss keeping comments positive and to avoid getting into a war of words with others on sites like these that seem so innocuous to most adults.

Virtual Reality Headsets – Advice and Safety Concerns

If your kids are asking for a virtual reality headset this holiday season, you might be interested in this guide from Common Sense Media. It covers everything from Google's inexpensive Cardboard VR viewer to Sony's new PlayStation VR. The guide mentions the headsets have minimum age requirements set by the manufacturers that you should check before you buy – generally ages 12 and up. This is important to keep in mind because, as many are pointing out, there is little research about the effect virtual reality has on very young children. Concerns include psychological development, effects on the eyes, and problems distinguishing reality from fiction or fantasy, which young children already have difficulty doing and is exaggerated even more in virtual reality.

The Pokemon Effect

Pokemon Go is still in full swing as school starts and has become a favorite among kids, teens and millenials. For more insight take a look at this infographic snapshot of the Pokemon effect. Parents need to understand that brand names are cashing in on the trend which means you may need to have yet another talk with your kids about online purchases.

The Possible Link Between Math and Video Gaming

A recent study published in the International Journal of Communication reveals that students who play video games may perform better in math than peers who opt for engaging with social media. The data comes from research on the test scores of 12,000 Australian teens, and has researchers suggesting that it is worth looking into how and what children learn from game-playing.

Safety Concerns About Pokemon Go

Teens (and adults) playing the new virtual reality app Pokemon Go have been getting into bad situations while playing– from walking off a cliff, finding a dead body, being bitten by a snake, and now even a report of someone being shot to death. To help keep your kids safe, you may want to review some safety and etiquette tips.

Stereotypes About Gaming and Girls Could Keep Them From STEM Careers

Despite studies showing women are just as good as men in video games and polls revealing nearly half of women play such games, the belief persists that the gaming world is for men. Experts say such attitudes could discourage girls from pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Video Games Involved in the Classical Retelling of Tales

Several literary classics, including Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, are being retold through a new art form that involves using video games. The EK Theater Company , based out of Connecticut and made up of students, uses video games to convey timeless tales through performances to live audiences. Students narrate dialogue from classic works to scenes of video games as avatars move through the action. The director decides which game scene will be projected while students (the digital puppeteers, voice actors and technicians) speak lines, move characters and manage the sounds and transitions. This new source of storytelling helps students study literature through a medium that is engaging and fun.

Best Game Consoles for Kids

Thinking about a game console for your kids these days is complicated.

Time Spent Playing Video Games Deemed Positive Within Limits

You might not want to tell your kids there is a new study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Publi

Video Games With Smoking Characters Carry No Warnings

Researchers surveyed 65 video game players, ages 13 to 50, and found they repor

Outsmarting Digital Devices – A Parent’s Guide

The Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center has a new guidebook on how to set limits on digital device use for both kids and parents called

Energy Drinks and Young Gamers – Bad Mix

Energy drinks have a new marketing strategy underway, and the