Student View
a girl plays with a game controller while characters from different games fly past her

(Minecraft, Among Us, Mario, Controller, Switch, Coins); Courtesy of Nintendo (Koopa Troopa); Fotoeventis/Alamy Stock Photo (Car)

CCSS

R.1, R.2, R.3, R.4, R.7, W.2, SL.1, L.4, L.5, L.6

Is Gaming Good for You?

Video games like Animal Crossing and Among Us have helped millions of Americans through a challenging year. Is this changing the way adults think about gaming—for good?  

Before You ReadClick here for an interactive pre-reading quiz.

 

    For Anna Blackburn, the Covid-19 pandemic was a struggle. Last spring, her middle school in Vermont shut down. So did her social life. For months, there were no sleepovers. There was no soccer. “I was pretty lonely,” Anna says.

    Then a friend discovered the game Among Us. Anna, who’s 13, started playing a couple of times a week. She’d get on FaceTime with a few people and open the app. She liked cruising the spaceship, looking for aliens. But most of all, she loved hanging out with her friends. It didn’t matter that they weren’t in the same room. 

    “It wasn’t just about playing the game,” she says. “It was a chance to talk about our lives.”

    The Covid-19 pandemic was hard for Anna Blackburn. Anna is 13. She lives in Vermont. Last spring, her middle school shut down. So did her social life. There were no sleepovers. There was no soccer. “I was pretty lonely,” Anna says.

    Then a friend told her about a video game. It’s called Among Us. Anna started playing it. She would play online with other people. She liked cruising the spaceship. She liked looking for aliens. But most of all, she loved hanging out with her friends. They weren’t in the same room. But that didn’t matter. 

    “It wasn’t just about playing the game,” she says. “It was a chance to talk about our lives.”

    Anna Blackburn was struggling to adjust to life during the Covid-19 pandemic. Last spring, her middle school in Vermont shut down—and so did her social life. For months, there were no sleepovers and there was no soccer. “I was pretty lonely,” Anna says.

    But then a friend discovered the game Among Us, and Anna, who’s 13, started playing. A couple of times a week, she’d get on FaceTime with a few people and open the app. She enjoyed cruising the spaceship, searching for aliens. But most of all, she loved hanging out with her friends. It didn’t matter that they weren’t in the same room. 

    “It wasn’t just about playing the game,” she explains. “It was a chance to talk about our lives.”

Rethinking Screen Time? 

Shutterstock.com

    Anna is not alone. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Americans have spent more time and money on video games than ever before. In the last year, the number of people playing NBA 2K20 nearly doubled. Call of Duty: Warzone went from having 30 million to 75 million players.

    And one weekend last September, Among Us had nearly 4 million people playing at once.

    Is all that gaming bad for us? Parents often worry that their kids will get hooked on video games. They think kids will lose interest in sports, school, and friends. But for kids like Anna, gaming wasn’t an addiction or a waste of time. It was a way to feel less isolated. 

    That experience may be changing the way adults think about gaming. “A lot of parents are finally seeing the benefits,” says Jordan Shapiro, an expert who studies screen time. “They’re seeing how rich it is, how social it is.”

    Other people felt the same way as Anna. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Americans have spent more time playing video games than ever before. The number of people playing NBA 2K20 nearly doubled over the past year. Call of Duty: Warzone went from having 30 million to 75 million players. And one weekend last September, Among Us had nearly 4 million people playing at once.

    Is that much gaming bad for us? Parents often worry about their kids and gaming. They think kids will get hooked. They think kids will lose interest in sports, school, and friends. But for kids like Anna, gaming wasn’t an addiction. It helped them feel less isolated. 

    Now, some parents think differently about gaming. “They’re seeing how rich it is, how social it is,” says Jordan Shapiro. He’s an expert who studies screen time.

    Anna wasn’t the only one who felt that way. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Americans have spent more time and money on video games than ever before. In the last year, the number of people playing NBA 2K20 nearly doubled, and Call of Duty: Warzone went from having 30 million to 75 million players. One weekend last September, Among Us had nearly 4 million people playing at once.

    Is all that gaming bad for us? Parents often worry that their kids will get hooked on video games and lose interest in sports, school, and friends. However, for kids like Anna, gaming wasn’t an addiction or a waste of time. Instead, it was a way to feel less isolated. 

    Understanding that experience may be changing the way adults think about gaming. “A lot of parents are finally seeing the benefits,” says Jordan Shapiro, an expert who studies screen time. “They’re seeing how rich it is, how social it is.”

Hanging Out Online

Shutterstock.com

    Gaming has changed a lot since your parents were kids. Maybe they played Super Mario Bros. or NBA Jam. But chances are they were one-on-one with a computer. 

    Then about 20 years ago, video games started to move online. And that changed everything. When you play online, you’re not just passing time. You’re hanging out with people—and learning how to get along. 

    Among Us challenges you to figure out who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. Fortnite makes you work together with the rest of your squad. Some experts even say gamers may have better social skills than people who don’t play.

    Gaming has changed a lot since your parents were kids. Maybe they played Super Mario Bros. or NBA Jam. But it was just them and the computer. 

    Then about 20 years ago, video games started to move online. That changed everything. When you play online, you’re hanging out with people. You’re learning how to get along. 

    Among Us has you figure out who’s telling the truth. Fortnite makes you work with others to do something. Some experts say gamers may have better social skills than people who don’t play.

    Gaming has changed a lot from when your parents were kids. Whether they played Super Mario Bros. or NBA Jam, chances are they were one-on-one with a computer. 

    Then about 20 years ago, video games started to move online—and that changed everything. When you play online, you’re not just passing time—you’re hanging out with people and learning how to get along. 

    Among Us challenges you to figure out who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. Fortnite makes you work together with the rest of your squad. Some experts even claim that gamers may have better social skills than non-gamers.

Learning Skills

Courtesy of Nintendo

    There may be other benefits to gaming. Think about Minecraft, which lets you build and design things. Games like that can make you more creative. Other games strengthen your memory. 

    Gaming may also get you ready for a career in today’s world. You practice teamwork. You learn to accept failure. And you do it all online. “Screen time is part of how we all live our lives now,” Shapiro says. “Who’s going to do better in a world of Zoom than a kid who grew up playing Fortnite?”

    There may be other benefits to gaming. Think about Minecraft. It lets you design and build things. Games like that can make you more creative. Other games can make your memory better. 

    Gaming may also help you get ready for a future career. You practice teamwork. You learn to accept failure. And you do it all online. 

    “Screen time is part of how we all live our lives now,” Shapiro says. “Who’s going to do better in a world of Zoom than a kid who grew up playing Fortnite?”

    Playing video games may have other benefits. Games that let you build and design things, such as Minecraft, can make you more creative. Other types of games strengthen your memory. 

    Gaming may also help prepare you for a career in today’s world. You practice teamwork and learn to accept failure. And you do it all online. “Screen time is part of how we all live our lives now,” Shapiro points out. “Who’s going to do better in a world of Zoom than a kid who grew up playing Fortnite?”

Switching It Up

    Of course, there is such a thing as too much gaming. But Shapiro says most people know when they’ve reached their limit. The important thing is to pay attention to how you feel. “When do I feel good, and when do I feel bad?” he says. “You know, no one feels good after staring at a screen for four hours.”

    When you feel bad, experts say you should change it up. Get outside. Find a way to talk to people face-to-face. That is, when you can do it safely. Until then, Among Us just might be a good substitute. 

    Of course, you can game too much. Shapiro says to notice how you feel. “No one feels good after staring at a screen for four hours,” he says.

    When you feel bad, experts say, do something else. Go out. See friends in person. But only if you can do it safely. Until then, Among Us might be a good substitute. 

    Is there such a thing as too much gaming? Of course—but Shapiro says most people recognize when they’ve reached their limit. What’s important is to pay attention to how you feel. “When do I feel good, and when do I feel bad?” he says. “You know, no one feels good after staring at a screen for four hours.”

    When you feel bad, experts say you should change it up, such as by going outside and finding a way to talk to people face-to-face. That is, when you can do it safely. Until then, Among Us just might be a good substitute. 

 Shutterstock.com (Pinball Machine); Courtesy of Atari (Atari); Courtesy of Ubisoft (Everquest)

ACTIVITY: 
5 Questions About
Video Games

What to do: Answer the questions below. Use full sentences.

What to do: Answer the questions below. Use full sentences.

What to do: Answer the questions below. Use full sentences.

Who is Anna Blackburn?

Who is Anna Blackburn?

Who is Anna Blackburn?

Why do some parents think video games are bad for kids?

Why do some parents think video games are bad for kids?

Why do some parents think video games are bad for kids?

When did video games move online? 

When did video games move online? 

When did video games move online? 

How might playing video games be good for you? 

How might playing video games be good for you? 

How might playing video games be good for you? 

What should you do if you think you’ve been gaming too much? 

What should you do if you think you’ve been gaming too much? 

What should you do if you think you’ve been gaming too much? 

Back to top
videos (1)
Skills Sheets (8)
Skills Sheets (8)
Skills Sheets (8)
Skills Sheets (8)
Skills Sheets (8)
Skills Sheets (8)
Skills Sheets (8)
Skills Sheets (8)
Lesson Plan (1)
Leveled Articles (2)
Leveled Articles (2)