Technology isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but some people think it could negatively impact the development of their child. Research suggests otherwise, and it is important that parents look at the evidence before barring a child from the technologies targeted at them today – specifically video games.

Video games often get a bad reputation from popular media due to the strong focus on first-person-shooter and other violent video games. But this type of video game is only a small part of video games overall, and as video games have ratings it’s easy to steer clear of these violent ones.

Non-violent video games can offer children learning never accessible by any previous generation. Virtual, interactive environments give children a multitude of ways to learn while having fun. With photorealistic graphics and millions of games available, your child can be exposed to new cultures (real or imaginary) that can spark creativity and offer a way to experience the world – that doesn’t involve a costly vacation. Games can inspire a sense of community for the child – connectivity with people who they would have otherwise not have known. This type of game is another way for your child to socialize with their peers. In addition, many games inspire in-game prosocial behavior, such as working in teams, competing together or helping a non-player character, and can encourage a child to participate more in their communities. This can be especially beneficial for that child who is extra shy or introverted.

The benefits of gaming spread well beyond how children perceive and interact with other children. Research suggests that gaming can improve strategy skills, decision-making, attention and critical thinking skills. A recent study even found that surgeons who played video games overall performed surgery better than those who didn’t.

So it’s reassuring to find that children can benefit from gaming. In a society so dependent on technology, it makes sense to let children experience it early.