Matthew Broderick might disagree

Vikings get fussy without their screen time.

My kid has been telling me for about a week about some study that shows video games might not be bad for you.

“Did Mario Brothers commission it?” Mike asks, but Jack can’t remember his source. I’m thinking it’s probably something he heard from school or else he’d be dragging us over to the computer screen to read whatever it is right now.

I humor him and Google: video games may not be bad for you and up pop a few articles. None of the sources is BuzzFeed; a check in the plus category for the efficacy of the study from an online research perspective.

Turns out, results of a German study were released recently that show game playing “increases the size of brain regions responsible for spatial orientation, memory formulation and strategic planning as well as fine motor skills.”

These are big words. Another plus. I’m inclined to believe a little less than I did before that some teenager made this up and developed a phony website so other people’s kids can prove a point.

There’s also a British study showing a correlation between something called “brain flexibility” and strategic games. Huh. 

I guess the takeaway is: someday, my kid should be able to actually do something with all this game playing more useful than hacking into his high school records to change his grades and then stumbling on a back door into a military central computer in which he confuses reality with game playing, possibly starting World War III.

Hang on, that was the 80s and my kid isn’t Matthew Broderick.


There’s other stuff that’s good for you; stuff I know without looking it up.

Because I’m the mom.

Doing homework. Anecdotal evidence shows a direct correlation between one’s ability to get math homework done before dinner and mom’s ability to manage her temper.

Playing outside. Okay, my adolescent might think he’s too old to gather the neighborhood posse for a game of hide and go seek, and it is January, but he could certainly bundle up and run with the dog. That’s good for brain activity. I don’t have to site research material. My source: the dog.

Practicing violin (or piano, or ukulele, whatever). I know there’s stuff out there on the connection between music and adolescent brain development, but I skipped the research and took a poll. Nine out of ten moms agree with me that the fact I pay good money for lessons every month and that my kid’s violin cost more than my first car means I should expect at least two hours practice per week. Nine of ten moms. The other mom wasn’t dissenting, necessarily. She was in the bathroom and missed the vote.

I don’t take issue with video games. I don’t. I do think it’s bad form to hang out in the basement for hours on end every weekend, eschewing all social interaction and only emerging for intermittent snacks, until there are more dishes stacked by the xBox than I had in my first apartment.

I also like to maintain the illusion that I have some control over what kind of content comes into this house (no more than sixty-five thousand screen deaths a week, please. And no F-bombs. We have to draw a line somewhere). So I’m going to continue to read reviews (discounting ones that are supposedly from ‘parents,’ but address the reader as ‘bro’ and use words like ‘sick,’ as a compliment), veto any games that are banned in Australia, and threaten to disconnect the electricity when people won’t come up for dinner.

I remember this age: plopping myself down in front of the TV for a daily influx of Gilligan’s Island, Family Feud, and Little House on the Prairie reruns until fifteen minutes before mom was expected home from work and then scrambling to do all the stuff we were supposed to have gotten done by then.

To my knowledge, no one has done a study on what a gajillion hours of Gilligan’s Island may or may not do, so I have to rely, again, on anecdotal evidence.

RIP Russel Johnson
RIP Russel Johnson

I’m guessing if such a study had been conducted, watching Gilligan would prove beneficial to neither brain size nor flexibility, but very helpful in inducing a huge crush on the Professor and thereafter on most witty and intelligent guys. Which resulted in my dating and later marrying my own witty and intelligent guy, and later creating with him a couple of guys who seem to be witty and intelligent themselves whenever we can pry them away from the screen.

And no one watching all that rerun nonsense after school was ever in danger of starting World War III. So, if nothing else, we always have that.


I just want to point out that you can vote once a day, every day, and you’re in no more danger than initiating global Armageddon than if you hadn’t. You may, however, cause a certain mom to jump up and down on the couch. So, take your chances….


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