Eleven-year-old Jackson Vacek lives in Texas. Two of his good friends live hundreds of miles away, in Ohio and Illinois. But Jackson gets to hang out with each of them for a few hours each week—by playing Minecraft over the internet. He says it’s a good way to stay connected with friends he rarely sees in person.
“It’s fun to play with them on the Xbox because it’s not like I can go to their house or anything,” Jackson says.
Many parents, including Jackson’s, allowed their children to spend more time playing video games while much of the U.S. was shut down last year. They say gaming lets kids escape from the real world and keep in touch with friends.
But other people argue that staring at a screen for hours at a time does more harm than good. They point out that playing video games can be bad for kids’ health and can actually isolate them from family and friends.