What’s the best age for someone to start playing video games? That’s a question that’s been asked quite a bit lately.

Is it seven? According to educational psychologist Jane Healy, who spoke at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, children should be kept away from video games until the age of seven to “allow their brains to develop normally.”

The paperback edition of “How Computer Games Help Children Learn” by David Williamson Shaffer hit stores this week, basically explaining how video games can be good for children. We’ve also heard firsthand accounts from people — video game legends, even — who began playing games at an early age, and they seemed to turn out pretty normal (or in some cases, brilliant).

In light of all this, I wondered what actual parents thought. We know what a lot of children’s specialists, media watchdog groups and industry researchers think. I decided to ask some parents I knew (and parents that friends and co-workers knew) about their opinions on the subject.

First up, I spoke with two mothers with very different answers.

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