I was a school child fifty years ago, when we had drills about how to hide under a desk in case of nuclear attack.

I had kids thirty-five years ago, and went out onto the street one day to mail a letter, only to discover that my daughter, on her way to school, had just been mowed down by an out-of-control car.

If you have ever jumped out of a police car to hear your kid screaming her head off from forty yards away in an emergency ward, well above all the other EM noise, you would likely ignore hypothetical dangers. Less PhD, more MD.

We all turned out okay in the end, but life is dangerous. That history has made me skeptical about The-Sky-Is-Absolutely-Falling-Right-This-Minute claims about kiddies and the Internet. Not unconvincible. Just want details. Like, what, specifically, is the problem? Is this a problem that could be solved by more common sense and hands-on management?

Well, here is an interesting study in Cell, as descibed by Mind Hacks:

The results were clear: kids who got video game consoles were worse off academically compared to their non-console-owning peers – their progress in reading and writing had suffered.

But this wasn’t due to an impact on their concentration, memory, problem-solving or behaviour – their neuropsychological and social performance was completely unaffected.

By looking at how much time the kids spent on the consoles, they found that reduced academic performance was due to the fact that kids in the console-owning families started spending less time doing their homework.

In other words, if your kids play a lot of computer games instead of doing homework they may well appear worse off, and from the teachers’ point-of-view, might seem a little slowed-down compared to their peers, but this is not due to cognitive changes.

So. Video games are not taking over your kid’s brain. What’s happening is more conventional: He is daydreaming instead of learning.

So the good news is that conventional parenting strategies should mostly still work.

Note: My daughter, incidentally, was not unattended. She walking with her father, but she sustained far more serious injuries, on account of being only three years old.

But seriously, this is someone no one should want to be:

Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger.

Denyse O’Leary is an author, journalist, and blogger who has mainly written popular science and social science. Fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s description of electronic media as a global village...