There’s no shortage of opinion around the effects of video games on children–especially regarding the more violent kinds of games. Researchers from Michigan State University have recently published research indicating that video games (even the violent kinds) have a positive impact on the creativity of 12 year old children. In a paper titled “Information Technology Use and Creativity: Findings from the Children and Technology Project” (purchase article here) published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, researchers L. Jackson, et al., found that children that play any kinds of video games tend to be more creative than children that do not play video games. In addition, their study showed that there was no relation to creativity when the same age group of children played with cell phones, browsed web sites, or performed other non-gaming related computer tasks.
This should give parents some hope, as the research appears to be reliable: it was funded by the National Science Foundation, and 491 middle school students took part. Whether or not video game “homework” could be used to systematically and deliberately improve children’s creative capabilities is another discussion, but the idea no longer seems to be completely out of the question as it might have been back in the era of Tipper Gore and video game ratings.