Fat and Stupid is No Way to Go Through Life

Okay, I paraphrased a quote from animal house for the title of this blog. But Dean Wormer had a point.  I think we need to ask, ” Are video games harmful to kids?”  If our kids play them, will they become addicted, obese, violent, and grow old in seclusion?  While I’m hearing less and less of it,  some people are still unsure about video games.  Personally, I happen to find a lot of value in gaming.

I play video games with my kids. While the American Psychological Association focuses on obsession and addiction, I’m less concerned about those things for most kids.  This is fun time for us.

Griffin, my first-born, blew me away by  mousing when he was 2.5 years old.  This is not uncommon.  Many three-year olds are using computers.  Griffin and I played a game called “Pajama Sam.” This was around 2002/2003 when CD Roms were still around.  We both look back at our time w/ Pajama Sam with fond recollections.

I think children who play Skatekids, for example,  are at no greater risk of becoming couch potatoes than those who curl up on the couch with a good book.

In a report issued by the Federation of American Scientists (2006) the panel concluded the following:

There are several attributes of games that would be useful for application in learning. These include

• Closing the gap between what is learned in theory and its use (i.e., contextual bridging)

• high time-on-task

• motivation and goal orientation, even after failure

• providing learners with cues, hints, and partial solutions to keep them progressing through learning

• personalization of learning

• infinite patience. (p.5)

The problem seems to be “either/or” thinking.  Either you are exercising or you are not.  Griffin plays baseball, basketball, and football.  Georgia does ballet.  Carter and Brady (twins) play t-ball, jump on their trampoline, play in-door soccer.  They also have non-exercise time in their lives.  They color, read, and–yes, play video games.  When they exercise, they develop their bodies.  When they play video games, they develop their minds.   We need to take care in all the activities we select for our kids.  This includes video games.

In fact, some video games lead to better athletic performance, even in youngsters.  While coaching baseball, I would sometimes see a youngster with a very nice looking swing.  I would ask who taught them and often hear, “I learned it from Playstation.”  How cool!  If you are still unsure about video games, check out Wii Fit and Wii Sports.  Anyone can work up a sweat playing those games.


Published by drmartinfletcher

Martin Fletcher, Psy.D, L.P. Dr. Martin Fletcher is the Shrink of The Shepherd and the Shrink Podcast. He is in private practice at Renew Hope Counseling where he also supervises a team of talented clinicians. In late 2019 Dr. Marty teamed up w/ Dr. Matt Hook to respond to the growing mental health crisis. The goal is to help people create healthy spiritual lives in order to restore meaning and purpose to individuals, families, and communities. Psychology meets spirituality. Dr. Fletcher holds advanced degrees in clinical psychology and education. His treatment approach involves quickly reducing symptoms while helping patients design and maintain health promoting lifestyles. Dr. Fletcher is a husband to Kathy and dad to 3 sons and one daughter. His interests include fitness, guitar, motorcycles, mountain biking, and exploring the role of spirituality in health. Dr. Fletcher is fully licensed in the State of Michigan.

4 thoughts on “Fat and Stupid is No Way to Go Through Life

  1. Those are very good observations, I think. This is the way we play, today. Reading was a lot like play, for me. Not so much the material offered in school. I enjoyed pursuing my own interests. The vocabulary offered in comic books, graphic novels, and magazines is very sophisticated when compared with our conventional speech. Pop culture literacy is a good thing. For me, those experiences were a springboard to more academic material. Thanks for the comments.

  2. Dr. Fletcher…I agree with you totally here. In Steve Johnson’s book, “Everything That’s Bad Is Good For You,” he points out that kids involved in strategy-based computer games learn scientific method better than kids do in hands-on science classes at school. There are several, not very surprising, reasons for this:

    • The games are compelling and absorbing in a way that very few science lab projects are…unless something gets to blow up in the lab.

    • Kids spend way more hours playing the games (voluntarily) giving them much more academic engaged time.

    • The games require the same cognitive skills as well-designed lab activities (e.g. separation and control of variables and combinatorial logic)

    There is no doubt in my mind that if Piaget and Vygotsky were kids today, they would be heavily involved in playing video games…and if that had happened, maybe they would have been smart enough to have written their key books in English.

  3. Well done! Everything in moderation is the key. Video games definitely have their benefits, as you pointed out in this post, and should be integrated into children’s different activities. A healthy balance of indoor and outdoor games seems to be the ideal solution.

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