Videogames seen good for children

Maria Amin, who turns six on Thursday, plays a computer game from her wheelchair in a rehabilitation hospital in Jerusalem August 29, 2007. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Videogames can be good for children, encouraging creativity and cooperation, a European Union report concluded Wednesday which ran counter to the violent reputation of some titles.

In conclusions that may either surprise or reassure parents of game addicts, the study by the European Parliament Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection found a number of benefits and no definitive link to violent behavior.

“Videogames are in most cases not dangerous and can even contribute to the development of important skills,” said Toine Manders, the Dutch liberal lawmaker who drafted the report.

“(They stimulate) learning of facts and skills such as strategic reflection, creativity, cooperation and a sense of innovation,” a news release on the report said.

The report avoided any call for EU-wide legislation banning certain games, and instead urged the bloc’s 27 member states to work together in strengthening an existing voluntary code in Europe known as “PEGI” which rates games according to content.

Total revenues from the video gaming sector amounted to more than seven billion euros ($9 billion) last year, the report said. In Britain, separate research last year showed videogames outselling music and other video products for the first time.

The EU report noted that not all games are appropriate for children, but argued that some books and movies are targeted for an older audience. It acknowledged that violence in some games could “stimulate” violent behavior in specific situations.

The report stressed parental involvement by proposing development of a “red button” that could allow parents to control content and how long games are played. It did not elaborate as to what form this button would take.

It further challenged received wisdom that such games were chiefly for children, quoting statistics that showed the average age of the European gamer was 33.

Editing by Mark John