If you have children who love video games - and an estimated 95 percent of them do - or are interested yourself in video gaming, consider the positive aspects of how playing video games can benefit your family, and others:
* Educational components - Video games have plenty of educational opportunities designed for the youngest to oldest members of the family. Some games work on math skills, others teach history lessons and still others work on teaching different languages. Research studies have also shown that fast-action games improve visual acuity and attention to details - especially when it comes to reading the fine print.
* Physical fitness - Gaming doesn't have to be a couch potato activity any longer. Modern gaming systems encourage players to stand up so the technology can track body movements to create the action happening on the screen. This physical activity can help improve muscle tone, balance and provide a cardio workout while the player is engrossed in the game play.
* Social connectedness - With gaming systems encouraging multiple players at once, and online communities established for players to talk about specific games, players can connect and socialize across the globe. On the local scale, a family video game night promotes a bit of competitive fun among family members, while still enhancing the physical and educational skills that children and adults can glean from video game play.
This Nov. 2, take advantage of the positive benefits of playing video games, and push them one step further by signing up for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Extra Life event. Families can register to participate in this give-back gaming celebration, asking supporters to pledge at least $1 per hour of game play on Nov. 2.
In previous years, Extra Life participants have raised an average of $200 each, which benefits CMN Hospitals across the country to fund the most pressing local pediatric needs. Families can find their area's member hospital and sign up to start their fundraising quest at www.extra-life.org.
Once registered for Extra Life, invite friends and other family members to also get involved in raising money for CMN Hospitals. Consider blogging or using social media to report your family's participation in the day's activities, and document the different games played each hour. You can even switch it up and play a mix of video, board and lawn games. Relays are a great way to keep the energy going while allowing regular breaks.
And consider keeping the tradition going strong by establishing a video game-playing night once a week or once a month. Push your children to the physical and educational games, and see if you can keep up with them. By joining them at the console or computer, you'll turn video gaming into family fun time - and show them that play can do the world a whole lot of good.