The Antithesis of Playing Outside: Video Games

We’ve all heard it, playing video games is really, really not good for children. It leads to antisocial behavior, living separate from reality, and even causes aggressive tendencies. The things many children need to work on; phonics, mathematics, life skills, are not found in quite a few video games. These same deficiencies are often cast on all kinds of technology; children playing on phones, tablets, and computers. One writer even goes on to say that, “The technology is causing many health issues in children. The surveys conducted from time to time tell that due to increasing use of gadgets, children are suffering from the health problems like back pain, weak eyesight etc. Due to less physical activities, the fatness is common to see in today’s children.[1]

Yet, is it really so bad?

The answer seems to be complicated. Yes and no, gadgets can hinder our developing children. Here’s how-

When it’s good-

Makes Your Brain More Active – Studies have shown that playing video games boost visualization ability which means mentally rotating and manipulating two or three-dimensional objects. German researchers also conducted a study to better understand the impact of video games on the brain. As per the study, playing games like Super Mario increases those regions in your brain that are responsible for memory formation, spatial orientation and strategic planning.

May Keep Your Mind Young – Video games can be an effective way to keep your mind young even if you’re aging. According to a study conducted by the University of Lowa, playing just ten hours of a game boost the mental processing speed and skills of gamers. This simply indicates that video games can stop decline in mental ability and restore cognitive processing speed. Isn’t it great if you can boost your mental speed by just playing your favorite video game?

Therapeutic for People with Chronic Illness – According to study by the University of Utah, regular video gaming help fight chronic illness among children such as depression, autism, etc. As per the research, kids who played certain games showed some positive signs of improvement. Gaming helped them with empowerment and boosting fighting spirit. Researchers believe that certain games trigger the neuronal mechanism and help people fight with their illness by activating positive emotions.[2]

When it’s bad-

“Most of the bad effects of video games are blamed on the violence they contain.  Children who play more violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and decreased prosocial helping, according to a scientific study (Anderson & Bushman, 2001).  The effect of video game violence in kids is worsened by the games’ interactive nature.  In many games, kids are rewarded for being more violent.  The act of violence is done repeatedly.  The child is in control of the violence and experiences the violence in his own eyes (killings, kicking, stabbing and shooting).

Too much video game playing makes your kid socially isolated. A study by researchers at the North Carolina State University, New York and the University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology points out that gamers usually do not replace their offline social lives with online game playing, but rather it expands them. In faGraphct, among gamers, being a loner is not the norm.[3]

Finally, the greatest problem is allowing children to play video games or any other technology nonstop. Children need variation. Their brains mature as their experience grows. Playing in controlled short bursts may be fine, but gaming for hours on end can cause damage and may even result in video game addiction, something that can cause grades to decline. “Although playing video games can be a learning experience, give your kid a variety of entertaining things to learn from, so your kid will not be addicted to just one thing.   Be sure to make him read books, play sports, interact with other kids, and watch good TV.  Everything should be taken in moderation.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children not spend more than one to two hours per day in front of all electronic screens, including TV, DVDs, videos, video games (handheld, console, or computer), and computers (for non-academic use). 3”

The consensus seems to be that video games, when monitored by an adult, aren’t bad at all. They, like strawberry Popsicles and chocolate cupcakes, need to be had in moderation and alongside other options. If video games are a part of a child’s day along with reading books, riding bikes, and talking to friends and family there seems to be no reason to ban them completely. The problems arise when adult supervision is lacking, when the games have content too violent in nature and mature for their age group, and when the games are part of a lifestyle that is only sedentary and lacks activity. It may never be appropriate for a child to play a game in which they shoot or stab another character but playing a game like virtual bowling or one that requires dancing or practiced hand/eye coordination may help improve their skill-set.

1 “Positive And Negative Impact Of Technology On Children.” My Essay Point. N.p., 01 Feb. 2015. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.

[2]  “7 Surprising Facts That Make Video Games Good for You.” The Bitbag. N.p., 07 Jan. 2015. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.

[3] “The Positive and Negative Effects of Video Games.” Raise Smart Kid. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.


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