I could take so many approaches to this post. On one hand, it's proven that video gaming can actually help students, with hand-eye coordination and other tools to enhance learning. On the other hand - we are all, always, concerned about excessive gaming. Finding and helping moderate that balance is fodder for a whole other post.
For now, let's talk about more productive ways that students can spend this "Gaming" time. When students start talking about their favorite video games in technology class - I always interrupt with the question:
Did you know you can make your own video games - AND, it's super easy to do?
Probably the most fascinating elements of video games is the story. And children are natural storytellers, or naturally want to be part of the story. Technology offers so many ways to publish their ideas, but nothing comes close to video games - in allowing you or a friend to be immersed in a story you create.
Kids eat it up, and it's a great way to turn that "screen time" into more productive time. By creating games, students not only have a toolset to bring their stories to life - they are also practicing the fundamentals of logic, storyboarding, and programming / coding. These could be the foundations to a future in coding, design, and other successful endeavors in college and career. Why not foster it if we're able?
I've had great success with a program called KODU, built by Microsoft Labs. It's a free download but for Windows only - if you have a Mac computer, I'd suggest creating using Bootcamp to install Windows and then KODU on your computer. There are many articles available on the internet for installing Windows on MacBooks.
An online option, Sploder, has become more popular with students. It allows the same flexibility as KODU - but, there is no focus on programming - just on creating a story and bringing it to life.
Gamestar Mechanic is a relatively new venue for making and sharing games, and seems to be education and community focused.
Scratch, developed by MIT, is more focused on visual programming than gaming specifically, but kids can make basic games to share among other programmers.
As there is more focus on coding in schools, the list of game making software is quickly growing. Advanced programs such as GameMaker, Unity3D, and Construct2 all allow for more complicated game design - and in some cases, publishing to the internet and mobile devices. Look to the Student Opportunities page on this site for a growing list of other resources.
Bottom line: Redirecting video-game obsessed kids to one of these video game design tools would not only be more productive, but give them the skills to be creators, authors, programmers and designers by publishing their own games.