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Video Games and the Effects on Children

As media and technology have been evolving so fast, so are the gravity and extent of effects they have on people. Adults, teenagers and children alike have been hooked in this global moneymaking machine, and have allowed this technology to eat up a significant amount of their time. The result is fewer hours spent on playing sports, or doing chores, school work, reading, sleeping, and socializing. And for children, playing video games could be more consequential as their cognitive and logical thinking abilities are still being developed and their behaviors are easily influenced.

Video games, the computerized games played by controlling images on a video display or television screen, have become the favorite past time of children. From wholesome, educational video games to fighting monsters and games that embody violence and deadly actions, it seems there’s no stopping the children. Thus, many fear that video games have already taken and are taking a toll on the behavior, attitudes and beliefs of children Negative Aspects and Parental Fears

More than anything, parents are most concerned with the influence of violent video games on the aggressiveness of thoughts, feelings and behavior of children (Anderson & Dill, 2000, p. 18) as many games serve as a showground of kicking and stabbing, and shooting and killings. In many instances, games require that players become more violent in order to win. While there are contradicting studies on the connection between playing video games and violent behavior, it is still suggested that violent video games indeed increase aggressive behavior in children.

“Children who watch a steady diet of violent programming increase their chances of becoming more aggressive towards other children, less cooperative and altruistic, more tolerant of real-life violence and more afraid of the world outside their homes” (Sheff, 1994, p. 45). Moreover, as children tend to spend long hours playing video games, their interaction with the outside world and with other people is either limited or cut off. They exchange social activities with improving their games, getting higher scores and beating the machine, if not the other player.

Unlike teen or adult players who may belong to social groups who share the same interests, children usually play alone, if not with one other person. Educators point out that if one needs to quantify the effect of video games on children, just look at their school grades. Regardless of content, as children spend more time in front of the video display, they spend less time studying, thus the negative effect on grades (cited in Gentile, Lynch, Linder, & Walsh, 2004, p. 2).

Aside from increased aggression, social isolation and low academic grades, parents also fear that exposing their children too much on video games could cause children to have wrong perceptions on social aspects and issues and develop biases and stereotyping (Sheldon, 2004). For instance, women are usually portrayed as weak characters in video games that are helpless and/or sexually provocative. Parents likewise fear that games could cause children to confuse reality and fantasy. Positive Aspects

While many parents and educators perceive video games as nothing but destructive tools that impart only negative messages, other critics say that “whenever one plays a game, and whatever game one plays, learning happens constantly, whether the players want it to, and are aware of it, or not” (Prensky, 2002, p. 1). As children are introduced to information technology, they also develop skills that are not often taught in school, such as problem-solving, resource management, logistics, mapping, memory, quick thinking and reasoning (Sheff, 1994, p.

33). This form of fun and entertainment could also be a way for kids and their parents to spend time playing together and somehow keep them off the streets. “Engaging the child in an interactive experience, developing hand-eye motor skills, giving the child a sense of accomplishment, keeping the child off the streets, and just encouraging having fun are all judged by many parents to be valuable or, at worst, benign” (Tapscott, 1998, p. 162). Some types of video games, presumably the non-violent ones, now also serve as therapy for patients.

Attention and self-esteem problems in children, for instance, are helped by the gaming experience. What Parents Should Know As with other activities and hobbies, video game playing, in excess, is dangerous. Parents are, thus, advised to monitor how long they play, primarily to prevent addiction to these games. In order to minimize the harmful effects of playing video games, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised parents to limit children’s time spent with video games to no more than one to two hours a day (cited in Behrman, Ed. , 2000, p. 8).

One very important note to parents is that although “90% of games are rated acceptable for everyone,” these ratings only serve as advisory. Regardless of the ages of the consumer or the content of the game, stores will sell any game to any person (Toohey, 2002). Nonetheless, it is necessary that parents also familiarize themselves with the video games ratings. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings provide information about video and computer game contents, so parents can check on what they buy for their kids or what their children buy.

Parents are likewise advised to use video games as learning tools instead of fearing them because the reality is, video games are here to stay. All parents have the responsibility to know what their children see, hear, and experience; thus, it would be best that they look into these facts and weigh them accordingly. They might have a better understanding of children’s appreciation of video games if these facts are presented in an interactive way, with parents having open dialogues with their children.

References

Anderson, C. A. , & Dill, K. E. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 772-790. Behrman, R. E. (2000). Children and Computer Technology: Analysis and Recommendations. The Future of Children, 10, 3-30. Gentile, D. A. , Lynch, P. J. , Linder, J. R. , & Walsh, D. A. (2004). The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance.

Journal of Adolescence, 27, 5-22. Prensky, M. (2002). What Kids Learn That’s POSITIVE From Playing Video Games. — Sheff, D. (1994). Video Games: A Guide for Savvy Parents. New York: Random House. Sheldon, J. P. (2004). Gender stereotypes in educational software for young children. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, — Tapscott, D. (1998). Growing Up Digital. New York: McGraw-Hill. Toohey, M. (2002, November 28). Video Games: What Every Parent Should Know. The New Britain Herald. —

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