Last week my 11-year-old son smugly announced to me, “I have been reading an article on ways to make your brain smarter. Guess what one of the items is?”
“Um, reading?” I replied.
“No. Guess again.”
“Eating your fruits and vegetables?” “ No.”
“Minding your manners?” “No!”
At this point he could hardly contain his glee and cut off the guessing game with, “Playing violent video games makes you smarter!” Oh yeah, I am not kidding. I asked him for his source.
He trotted out the latest issue of Newsweek.
As I was paging through the magazine to verify his interpretation, he added slyly, “There are things you can do too, like drinking red wine and eating dark chocolate.” Hallelujah, my secret stash of chocolate in my desk is not only medicinal but brain food. I have to give the kid credit for cleverly co-opting my compliance by pointing out that there was something “bad” in it for me. I hate being outsmarted by a 5th grader.
Sharon Begley’s Newsweek article, Buff Your Brain), stated that “Various studies have found that videogames quicken reactions, improve multitasking, and reduce hostile feelings after a stressful task.” Who knew? Maybe after a tough day I should try playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 or Skyrim instead of swearing to myself. I’ll be calmer and smarter at the same time.
I admit that allowing my youngest son to play “M for mature” rated games has left me a bit uncomfortable.
To find out how we handled our video game conundrum, please head over to PermissionSlips for the rest of this week’s post (http://permissionslips.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/making-your-kids-smarter/), a blog I alternate writing with my friend and colleague