growing up: late elementary

Nintendo Rules

Your guide to the ages and stages of development

If you can't seem to tear your 10-year-old away from the Nintendo, take heart. According to researchers, a child's interest in video games surges around fourth grade, then tapers off.

While some experts have found proven benefits from video games ? improved hand-eye coordination, a mastery of technology, increased strategy skill ? many others wonder about the consequences of kids' preoccupation with electronic entertainment.

Primary among those concerns is the effect violent video games may have on children. There is still no conclusive research to determine how playing aggressive and violent video games influences a child's behavior. Evidence does indicates that immediately after playing a violent video game, a child will act with uncharacteristic, increased aggression. The effects, however, have not been found to be long-lasting.

One 1994 study linked boys' strong preference for violent games with low self-confidence. Educators point out that the standard game plot ? an autonomous individual working against an evil force ? does little to encourage cooperation or teamwork and instead fosters a sense of isolation and aloneness. And rarely do video games motivate players to depend on God for their strength and power.

While nonviolent, educational games are available, fewer than 2 percent of boys choose them. Boys prefer action-packed, violent or highly competitive sports games. (Girls rarely play video games, possibly because videogame companies don't target them.)

Until your child outgrows his interest in video games, there are ways you can keep his fascination in check:

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