We all have our guilty pleasures, and likewise, we all have our own unique ways of rationalizing them. I personally seem to eat a cookie or brownie with every meal except breakfast. (OK, I'm lying, with breakfast too, sometimes.) Depending on the day, I'll explain it away by arguing that I've earned it by working or I need that miniscule caffeine boost or I just claim I'll walk it off later. But I digress.
While there's no doubt that smoking or drinking too much can negatively impact your health and endanger the well-being of those around you, some vices can actually be positive. So, if nothing else, consider this a laundry list of excuses you can throw at your critics next time they bust you for engaging in your favorite guilty pleasure.
Parents will undoubtedly cringe reading this sentence, but despite all the criticism, a number of studies have come out over the years touting the health benefits of playing video games. In 2003, a group of American researchers found that gamers who played point and shoot games developed better than average visual skills and were better at dealing with distractions. Similarly, many health clinics began using video game consoles a few years ago to help kids and adults deal with their attention deficit disorder by learning how to focus on the games for long periods of time.
Beyond that, just this week the American Heart Association announced they would start promoting the Nintendo Wii as a good tool to get Americans to be more physically active. Unlike other video games, the Wii control responds to the gestures that the user makes, which means players must move around a lot more. The AHA went so far as to argue that "active-play video games can be an integral part of a healthy lifestyle." Before this, the Wii was also heralded as a great tool to help physical therapy patients.
Of course, parents have every right to be wary of letting their children play extremely graphic and violent games. (Although some gamers argue this too can be good for the soul by allowing users to confront their dark side.) Yet, it seems clear that video games are far from universally bad and, truth be told, picking out the right games and consoles might just make your life a little bit better.