Nightly News   |  September 07, 2013

Video games can help kids think and focus

Video games are being used to treat children with conditions like ADHD. NBC’s Nancy Snyderman reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> parents are concerned about the kinds of video games their kids are playing, it turns out that some of those games can actually help children in their thinking and focus. that story tonight from our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman .

>> reporter: 10-year-old jackson janice can't get enough of his video games .

>> i love them because they're really awesome.

>> reporter: he spends hours every week glued to the screen. for fun and for therapy. jackson has adhd, and every week he meets with other boys like himself and dr. george sax . they play video games , yes, video games , to challenge their minds.

>> they have to be aware of another kid's feelings. they have to be aware of noanother kid's intentions. mostly it requires a great deal of social skills .

>> they really are excited and engaged and eager to play with each other and to work together to solve problems.

>> reporter: new research reinforces the benefits behind video game play like this, finding it can improve strategic thinking and strengthen brain agili agility. researchers tested 72 volunteers and after 40 hours of gaming those playing a strategy-based game showed better speed and accuracy on cognitive tests.

>> they were able to juggle multiple information sources better and adapt to changing environments.

>> reporter: researchers say these findings could lead to new and improved treatments for people with adhd or brain injury .

>> i think what we need to do is understand exactly what parts of these video games are having the positive effects on people and to isolate exactly what's happening in the brain.

>> though violent video games have been a topic of controversy linked with aggression and addiction, this study adds to a growing body of research that finds that strategy-based games can promote learning and mental dexterity. at the games learning society in wisconsin, researchers study and develop games exploring the best way to tap into these benefits. they have created more than a dozen games to date.

>> we build game that's are educational and impactful of.

>> reporter: building on encouraging news that video games can be much more than child's play. dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news, new york.