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Video Game Play May Not Just Be for Slackers

Several times a year, the Pew Internet & American Life Project releases detailed research findings about the ways in which we Americans use computers and the Internet.

And wait till you hear what the latest Pew report has to say.

It's called Teens, Video Games, and Civics.

It seems that playing video games has a connection to what the report calls social interaction and civic engagement. Imagine that! Playing games like Dragon Quest, Guitar Hero, or Warhammer on their computers or game consoles leads to community involvement.

Not surprisingly, the researchers report that 97 percent of teens play computer games, usually for an hour or more a day. They say the social interaction comes from playing the games with others in the room, as 65 percent of teens do.

So role-playing the popular but violent video game Grand Theft Auto with your buddies can be social interaction. But civic engagement?

Pew finds that video game play parallels civic activities such as helping others and debating ethical issues. It calls these civic gaming experiences.

The researchers determined that teens who play video games with others seek more information about politics, are a tad more likely to raise money for charity, or may persuade others how to vote, than teenagers who don't play video games or who play them by themselves.

So what's the lesson for parents who want to get their kids involved in the community? Go out and get them that Halo Three or Dance Dance Revolution video game? And make sure they invite some friends over to play it with? Or here's a radical community-involvement idea for young video game players: get out of your computer chairs and go volunteer to help others in the real world.