Video games aren’t always a bane for parents, when played in moderation. In fact, recent research identifies it as one of the ways you can improve spatial skills in kids as well as adults, reports. In an article published in the American Psychological Association’s journal, the Psychological Bulletin, researchers noted that spatial skills like the ability to put puzzles together and read maps well can be improved through training.

This is significant since developing these types of skills helps people do better in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (or STEM fields, for short).

The study involved the analysis of 217 other research studies on methods to improve spatial thinking.

"People of all ages can improve at all types of spatial skills through training, period,” Nora Newcombe, one of the researchers and a professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as principal investigator of the National Science Foundation’s Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center, is quoted as saying. "Our findings have significant real world implications by showing that training can have an impact on a technological workforce. With the right training more high school students will be able to consider engineering and other scientific fields as a career option."

The researchers noted that different forms of training were successful in improving spatial skills. This included playing video games and having physics students use three-dimensional representations.

So what can you do to encourage your child to train his spatial skills? Getting him a number of puzzles to solve would be one thing. Letting him play video games, especially the types that also boost creativity and visual attention, is another. Just make sure that you manage his gaming time so he doesn’t end up spending too much time on the console or PC and he doesn’t end up getting addicted to gaming, to the detriment of his social and academic life.

(Photo by Tom Woodward via Flickr Creative Commons)

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