You can benefit from video games

Americans spend too much time sitting motionless in front of video screens watching TV and surfing the Internet. But if you play the right video games and use them correctly, they may improve your life.

Research at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, shows that if you play online social network games (SNGs) with family members you may solidify your familial bonds.

The Canadian researchers believe these games offer a significant way to interact with your siblings and relatives while fulfilling your social obligations.

“Maintaining those connections is especially important as families find themselves dispersed across countries and continents,” says researcher Mia Consalvo. “SNGs give families a convenient and cheap way to transcend geographical boundaries.”

The study shows that online games can give family members something to discuss and can improve the quality of the time they spend together. These games also unify relatives who may otherwise only have rare interactions. In some cases, distant cousins and aging aunts and uncles have reconnected with their families by playing these online games together.

“It’s not just siblings in their early 20s using SNGs to connect. Grandfathers are playing online games with granddaughters, mothers with sons. These multi-generational interactions prove social networks are tools that break down both communication and age barriers,” says researcher Kelly Boudreau.

The researchers point out that for many people online games such as Candy Crush saga have now replaced board games as pastimes. That makes the online games important social interactions.

“Families that play together play the longest and have the greatest sense of duty to one another as players,” says Consalvo. “That behavior could extend the life of these games beyond what it would be if only friends or strangers were playing together. Designers should keep that in mind as they design the next generation of SNGs.”

Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.