Every other Friday, Web Watch points to an interesting item or resource found online — sometimes age-related, sometimes not. Send your suggestions for online finds to [email protected]

by Elizabeth Hemmerdinger | bio

I’ve read a number of stories recently about the growing popularity of online video games and active games such as Nintendo’s Wii among baby boomers and our elders. In fact, women over 40 make up the largest percentage of online gamers.

“Anxious about the mental cost of aging, older people are turning to games that rely on quick thinking to stimulate brain activity. A step slower than in their youth, they are using digital recreations of bowling, tennis and golf,” Seth Schiesel wrote this spring in The New York Times.

Sure enough, retirement communities are installing Nintendo Wii game consoles for residents, as is Norwegian Cruise Line. Schiesel also reports from St. Mary of the Pines in Chatwa, Miss., where 52 retired members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame read, garden, fish, sew, pray multiple times per day — and play online video games.

Seed Magazine recently looked at whether games designed to improve your brain fitness are more hype than science.

“The Baby Boom generation is turning 60. This means that more than 75 million Americans are approaching the age at which cognitive decline typically begins,” writes Jonah Lehrer. “Right on cue, a bevy of electronic games, from the Happy Neuron Game to the Vigorous Mind series, is hitting stores. All of them promise one thing: to save your brain.”

I don’t know about saving my brain, but I do enjoy playing a game called Shanghai before I sit down to write. I learned about this game from Paula Vogel, a Pulitzer-prize winning playwright, so I figured it can’t hurt. It simply involves clicking on numbers that move quickly across the screen, but the concentration it requires is calming.

Boomshine is another addictive Flash game. I learned about it through the e-mail delivery service, Daily Candy. Again, the premise is simple: Click the screen to start a chain reaction and try to burst as many dots as needed to pass all 12 levels.

So what games are keeping you busy? I’d love to hear about your favorites.

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  • Mac June 8, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    My parents love The Brain Fitness Program by Posit Science. They say it has changed their lives. I have noticed that they are much more social, and no doubt sharper. Seems like there confidence in what they are doing has gone through the roof. Seems like a fantastic program.