Kids have loved playing video games for many years, as have some adults. Now we have modern devices such as smartphones, it’s possible to play games on the move.
You can bring your favorite mobile game into the bedroom, the car or the office.
About 95% of American teens have smartphones and it’s hard to find one who doesn’t play at least one video game.
These games often get bad press but there are some advantages they offer.
It’s important to strike a good balance of appropriate limits and worthwhile content.
Video games are supposed to provide occasional amusement rather than take over all your spare time.
Pros of Video Games
Main video game pros are:
1) Life Skills
A lot of video games are useful for teaching kids to work as a team, prioritize and delegate.
Kids playing online games with real-life friends often need to figure out task division and collaboration to win the level.
Video games can help with learning, according to some studies. Teachers have used them in the classroom to see better test scores.
Video games help students to learn and apply this learning to a real-life situation.
There are military and medical training programs which make use of simulation to teach strategy and tools.
The Nintendo Wii and other motion-controlled gaming devices seemed to be the answer to kids sitting around playing which led to obesity.
However studies have shown these games don’t increase kids’ overall activity level alone.
Playing motion-activated games is certainly healthier than playing static video games while sitting in one position for a long time.
Look at Pokémon Go, for example. This video game treasure hunt motivated kids to get out of the house.
Geocaching is a real-life treasure hunt which encourages players to move around, while The Walk combines storytelling with exercise.
4) Better Brain Function
Video games can help us to solve problems and reason. They help us process information more quickly, multitask well and make split-second decisions.
Video games also have the ability to increase auditory perception and boost hand-eye coordination.
Playing video games can boost a player’s ability to detect subtle differences in shades of gray, which is known as ‘visual contrast sensitivity’, according to Psychology Today.
They might also improve eyesight for the visually impaired as well as increase their ability to detect the direction of movement visually.
5) Job Skills
Kids should play more video games so they can be more competitive in the job market, according to The Federation of American Scientists (FAS).
The FAS released a report in 2010 saying games can teach interpretive analysis, problem solving and other higher-order thinking skills.
6) Can Help Anxiety and Depression
Video games can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. The game Tetris, for example, was shown by the Scientific American to ease some kinds of PTSD.
Authors in forums like Sundry and Geek have described how playing games can help people with social anxiety learn about social cues and initiate friendships and relationships.
Cons of Video Games
And cons of video games are:
Although many studies show that playing a violent video game does not negatively impact the kids who play them, there have been some interesting brain scan study results.
Children who play violent games have shown an increase in emotional arousal as well as less activity in the parts of the brain dedicated to self-control.
This especially applies to shoot-em-up games simulating firearms.
The debate continues so you might be interested in how these violent video games can affect children.
You can help kids to choose more appropriate games. A lot of console games have information about the game’s language, topic, violence level, and so on.
The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK started to treat video game addiction recently.
This happened when the World Health Organization (WHO) added gaming disorder to its International Classification of Disease.
The reason for this is that playing games releases dopamine which gives us pleasurable feelings and tells the brain to repeat the experience for more of the same reward.
Video games are designed to be addictive. Game designers provide stimulus and rewards at strategic places and times.
Kids who have a hard time fitting in or who have poor impulse control are the most likely to get addicted to video games.
This is perhaps because the games offer a way to fill the void when relationships in the real word are difficult to form.
Studies have shown that up to 1 in 10 youths are addicted to video games.
3) Replacement for Social Interaction
It’s important to be able to tell whether video games are negatively affecting or replacing other aspects of your kids’ lives and also to know exactly how much time they are spending on gaming.
Kids who play online games can ‘spend time’ with their friends from the comfort of their bedroom.
However, this kind of virtual get-together makes a poor replacement for face-to-face interaction.
Another danger is online predators, and then you also have cyber-bulling. A virtual hangout stops kids from going to one house to another and stops them being able to practice social skills.
Are You Worried Your Child is Gaming Too Much?
Although video games can help kids with various skills, it’s important to set limits.
If your child is gaming too much or seems to be getting obsessed, it’s time to talk to them in a non-judgmental way.
See whether you can come to a compromise on a reasonable amount of time your child can play per day or per week.
For more advice, you can ask your pediatrician for tips or even a therapist specializing in teen or tweens.
Signs of Video Game Abuse
- Most free time is spent gaming
- Failing grades
- More anxiety
- Neglecting hygiene
- Irritable mood when not gaming
- Tiredness and not enough sleep
- No interest in other activities
Although video games can be helpful in some ways, they shouldn’t take up as much time as sleeping, socializing, studying, and exercising.
It’s a good idea to review your time spent online sometimes since this world can seem over-connected at times.