Introduction: Video Games Are A Large Part of Life
Sometimes it seems like so many children and teenagers want to spend more time playing video games today than doing their homework or playing sports or outside with their friends. It makes me curious about the potential for all of that action and violence to harm their brains even though contemporary technology can be a great advantage for all of us. I know that computers and cell phones and all of those things make us much more savvy than the human race was hundreds of years ago, but I think about a lonely child isolated in a single room playing a game alone and possibly not learning some of the necessary skills that may be needed in the real world and I wonder if an addiction to those brilliant and colorful games could be just as harmful as it can be helpful in some ways.
Research Is Being Done By Many
There have been many studies over the years about all of the many effects, both positive and negative, of video games on children of all ages and the results have been various even though not quite definitive. It is good to know that since we are a very highly technological society today that our children are well off to learn skills of computer technology early and that the games of the right level and nature can help with their learning and real-world skills. Using the machines can help with manual dexterity and computer literacy, both important later in the real world, and there are many pro-social games that teach building a town and reward for helping others.
Positive Results Are Available
There are also many other positive results from many studies that have appeared over time. Some of them include the fact that many multi-player games can be a bonding experience among family or friends and can be socially developmental for children. Other games require players to maintain a hypothesis or long-term goal throughout a game, and help develop good decision-making speed while playing games and learn further accuracy over time as they must make better decisions in order to win. An overall result found with all different kinds of games was improvement in self-esteem and self-confidence in children as they win more often and learn to take risks and overcome challenges to win games and reach goals. Multi-player games are shown to help improve cooperation and team-work. Some games are shown to help with attention and reading skills, especially helpful in children with learning disabilities like dyslexia or children with ADD. Video games that are active or mobile like Dance Dance Revolution are both interactive and social, as well as a bit of exercise and stress release.
Most Researchers and Others Assume Negatively, Violent Games Are Known to Be the Most Effective
One of the primary assumptions about video games over the last thirty or so years is that they are having a negative effect on society and crime rates, especially the violent video games that have been coming out. Some of the most recently popular violent games include those like Death Race, Mortal Combat, Doom and Grand Theft Auto. These are mostly downcast for the violence they contain, potential leads to increased aggression and decreased pro-social helping. Many studies also discuss the repetitive nature of violent video games linked to learning behaviors and its potential to change a child or teenager’s nature after increased playing.
However, even if it is not just the violent games that the children play, too much video game and media usage can have a negative effect on a child or teenager. Although in a violent game, studies have shown that the player does have the capability to leave the emotional effects behind upon leaving the game. Some of the articles also mention that most often it is aggressive children or teenagers who are drawn to play the violent video games in the first place rather than the games themselves instilling violent behavior in the players themselves. Since the studies themselves are not necessarily conclusive or definitive the complete effects of violent games on criminal activity in society are not overall finite.
Other Multiple Negative Affects From Video Games and Media
Even if a video game is not violent too much video game playing or overuse of media can interfere with a child’s homework or social interaction with friends and family or other important things. Some games can encourage improper social or moral values or development. Although some video game playing can encourage attention and technology development, some studies show that certain playing can be related to negative academic achievement by emphasizing or over-developing skills not related to the same needs as school learning. Video game playing can also have negative health effects related to obesity and other potential brain issues such as seizures or nerve disorders among others. Aside from the potential addiction to any and all video games, the online games that are available can draw all children to potentially damaging individuals from whom they can pick up bad behaviors.
Summary: It’s Up To the Parents To Control Gaming: Video Game Time Can Be a Family Time
The common consensus from most of these studies is that the best thing that all parents can do is to make sure that they monitor and control the types, amount of time and all media usage among their children. This does not just mean video games but television, internet, cell phones and everything that may include images, videos, interaction with others and all things that could lead to mature, sexual or violent communication or behaviors that may be impressionistic or above their children’s level of maturity. One study that I read stated that of the children that were surveyed ages 8-18, the average media usage daily was seven and a half hours and only about half of the children questioned were given any in-home rules regarding their video game and media usage. I know that as a parent myself I find that quite disturbing.