Personal pleasure is also something to consider. There is nothing wrong with doing something just because you gain personal satisfaction from it!
The future of all gamers?And then there is the big one, social skills. Most of us have an image in our head of the awkward teenage boy sat at his computer or other gaming system, unable to socialize with the real world so he finds his friends online. However, this is actually contrary to what research is showing. Video games can actually set the foundation for friendships, with research showing that knowing someone online makes you more likely to help them in the real world. A lot of online games also offer the opportunity to engage in cooperative play involving verbal communication and/or written communication.
Sounds like a parents dream come true right? Well, not exactly. Like everything there is a bright side and a dark side. For instance, research with girls showed that girls who play video games with their parents tended to behave better while this was not the case for boys. Finding appropriate content for younger children can also be something to think about. Sites such as Common Sense Media help by giving you a way to research games by name. Behavioral, sleep issues, and other issues are also linked to too much TV time. The AAP recommends no more than 1-2 hours per day of screen time (anything on a screen).
So what is my verdict? Don't be afraid to pull out that game if that is what your child enjoys! As with any other activity, be it reading, eating, playing outside, or watching TV, video games are fine in moderation and can actually be beneficial to your child. My children engage in a little more than the recommended time, but that decision comes from a personal knowledge of what my children can handle and also includes their specifically educational screen time.