Hey, kids! Whatever you do, don't let your parents hide this column from you!
Oh, they will try. They will say the newspaper was never delivered, or the carrier threw it on the roof, or the dog chewed it up and buried it in the back yard. But do not believe them.
Indeed, nearly every so-called "responsible" adult will try to keep you from reading this very column. Why? Because knowledge is power, and it just so happens that I'm about to open up a big ol' No.-10-size can o' wisdom on you young nippers.
Why, even our copy editors here at the newspaper, some of whom have teenagers themselves, do not want you to read the paragraph following this one. And to that end, they will likely put some incredibly boring headline atop this column -- like "Federal Reserve hikes interest rates," or "Ryan Seacrest to host another event," or "Even more boring news about Syria" -- just because they figure no one under 21 would read such a story.
But I'm here to tell you, this column is about to change your adolescent lives. Because, as it turns out, video games are actually good for you. That's right, video games = goodness.
In what has to be the single greatest news for teens since the discoveries of pizza and benzoyl peroxide, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have found that playing video games can actually improve multitasking skills.
The study was published in the journal Nature. Led by neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley, the researchers found that volunteers ages 60 to 85 showed gains in their ability to multitask, to retain information, and to stay focused on a "boring activity" -- all abilities that normally decline with age.
Technically, this research is aimed at improving cognitive abilities in older adults. But I say, if video games can improve brain function among the addled elderly, imagine what they could do for those of you with young, quick minds. When you think about it, really, video games are like anabolic steroids for the brain.
In the study, the researchers designed their own video game, called "NeuroRacer." The Nature article describes it as "a three-dimensional video game in which players steer a car along a winding, hilly road with their left thumb, while keeping an eye out for signs that randomly pop up. If the sign is a particular shape and colour, players have to shoot it down using a finger on their right hand."
Yeah, OK, so it's no "Grand Theft Auto: Vice-ridden Retirement Community." Still, these "NeuroRacer" results do bode well for the more exciting RPGs you youngsters tend to gravitate toward. If researchers think using a left thumb and right finger develops cognitive abilities, they should get a load of the mental workout required by using all 10 digits to manipulate multiple buttons and joysticks simultaneously.
Gazzaley warns against over-hyping his and his fellow researchers' results. He tells Nature: "Video games shouldn't now be seen as a guaranteed panacea."
But I say that's exactly how they should be seen. In fact, I submit to you that video games aren't just a panacea, but a pancetta as well. (Mmmm, Italian bacon ...)
For far too long, video games have been met with all sorts of hand-wringing disapproval from uptight adults. "Get outside and exercise," they'll nag. "Why not play a board game instead?" "Read!"
But I say, researchers have finally proved what you young people have known all along -- that video games have this unbelievably inherent power for good.
So then, which is it, kids? Shall we play "Call of Duty," or read up on the Syrian conflict?
I'll get the controllers ...
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @Saalman.