Most people would think video games will rot kids' brains if they are exposed to it. Action games, in particular are often associated with violence and bad language. True, these games have ESRB ratings and should be strictly followed by age bracket.
If you have kids that are playing too early for that Battlefield or Call of Duty game, I think it's time to evaluate what you have allowed them to play. As I've said on the previous paragraph, we have ESRB ratings that state what proper age should gamers be at when playing a particular game.
What are the ratings by ESRB?
In an attempt to match the players age and ability to reason with the level of the video games maturity rating, ESRB has this series of from Early Childhood to Adults only. You can view the rating details here.. In relation to this article, parents should properly filter what games they allow their children to play.
What are action games?
It is also important to note that the term action games often are associated and interchanged with motion games, i.e. Kinect or Wii games. These game types are totally different from each other as, respectively, one only requires controller input and the other your whole body gestures. Generally, the latter is safer for kids as most of the titles for motion games are for family audience.
With the confusion out of the way, research show that action games also have a positive effect on children. Benefits such as improved motor skills, attentional control, and cognitive flexibility were observed. However, a worrying finding shows that violence incorporated in these games have also increased aggressive thoughts and behavior on children. Personally I was also exposed to videogames at an early age, but thankfully those were 8-bit games where blood and gore concepts would just show red pixels coming out of some pixelated character's gut. Case in point, the graphics back then weren't convincing enough to make me a violent person, although I admit I have thoughts of being one.
What are the benefits of playing action games?
Perceptual-decision making is being improved, or in layman's term, the ability to pick out targets and focus on them for the time being until another target can be accommodated. Processing speed has also been improved, say how the player responds to a target. Focus is fortified along with the ability to remember visual cues. Lastly, multitasking is also enhanced plus the ability to switch between two tasks with remarkable speeds, says Edutopia.org. If you need to dig into the details, the article provides you with good ones.
What is the bad side of playing action games?
Well, I didn't have to read the rest of my reference article to know this. One downside of playing action games is the violence. Yes, I know there are a lot of gamers out there that would disagree, but these are kids we are talking about here, their brains are like sponge absorbing liquid knowledge. On top of the blood and gore is the bad language, it wouldn't be hard to find someone online who is underaged and trash talking about your mother over a game of Overwatch.
It is also important to note that without these controversial content (the violence and bad words) the current action games that we have today would be bland and uninteresting - to the right age bracket players, of course.
What should kids play today?
Simple solution would just be following that ESRB rating to correspond your child's age. Until they reach the right years, I recommend Kinect games for kids. These may be burried under the plethora of modern consoles and their games but they still work great with children. Check out this promotional video posted years ago, you might decide to get one for your kids. Yes, it has content just for kids and I intentionally posted an Xbox 360 feature since these games should be cheap by now, also try Wii U and some of PS3's motion games.