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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Video Gaming Notes

•  Casual Gaming Is Good For You!
•  GetGameSmart
• "Only Terrible Parents Buy M-rated Games for Kids"

Read on for this week's round-up of the latest news in video gaming. 

Casual Gaming Is Good For You!

Are you worried about all the hours you waste playing casual games like Bejeweled or Peggle? Worry no more! It appears that casual gaming may actually make you smarter.

A six-month study by the East Carolina University Psychophysiology Department focused on a group of US consumers aged 50 and over and measured brain wave activity before and after playing casual games. Subjects that played games like Bejeweled over a 30-minute period showed an 87 percent improvement in cognitive response time and a 215 percent increase in executive functioning (the frequency of correctly completing certain tasks) compared to a control group.

"The initial results are very intriguing in that they suggest that the 'active participation' required while playing a casual video game provides an opportunity for mental exercise that more passive activities, like watching TV, do not," said Psychophysiology department head Dr. Carmen Russoniello. "Future applications could include prescriptive applications using casual video games to potentially stave off Alzheimer's disease and other dementia-type disorders."


Yesterday, The Online Mom held a Twitter Party in conjunction with GetGameSmart, a web site full of great advice for parents on how video games can be enjoyed safely and responsibly by the whole family.

Tools include everything from helpful videos explaining the ESRB video game rating system, to an explanation of Xbox Live , Microsoft's online gaming service, to the PACT, a downloadable document which you can customize to produce a set of video game "rules" for the family.

There are also separate tip sections for teens and parents and an "Ask the Expert" feature if anyone gets stuck. Check it out today.

"Only Terrible Parents Buy M-rated Games for Kids"

If you buy M-rated video games for kids then you are a terrible parent, says none other than DJ Lazlow, top producer at Rockstar Games, the maker of Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and other controversial titles.

"Our games are not designed for young people," said Lazlow in an interview with the BBC. "If you're a parent and buy one of our games for your child, you're a terrible parent. We design games for adults because we're adults."

Rockstar has long been a lightning rod for groups looking to protest violence and other adult content in video games. The Grand Theft Auto series in particular is notorious for violence, nudity, profanity and other mature themes and has often been cited by politicians as an example of the corrupting influence of M-rated video games.

To avoid kids being exposed to inappropriate content, Rockstar has a simple suggestion for parents: Don't buy those games for your kids!    

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