The Negative Effects of Video Games on Our Children

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The Negative Effects of Video Games on Our Children

March 27, 2017

Written by: Katica Maric

With global sales of video games reaching $91 billion dollars in 2016, it’s safe to say that the virtual world is here to stay. Like it or not, video games have captured the imaginations of folks both young and old from all corners of the globe. But their appeal is even higher among the younger generation, with many kids these days having grown up with them. In fact, chances are that you’ve got little ones at home, you already know how hard it is to pry them from their favorite video games.

Consequences

But in recent years researchers have gone to great lengths to show that excessive video game consumption might not be all that harmless after all.

A 2015 American Psychological Association report demonstrated a consistent relationship between violent video games and a heightened level of aggression in children who played them for long periods of time. This, by and of itself, should come as no surprise, since video games, like movies, come with different ratings according to their age appropriateness.

Thus, a mature shooter like Call of Duty should never fall into the hands of a 7-year old whose grasp on reality is not yet firm enough to create enough distance between his or her ego and what’s happening on screen.

But the reality of video games is more complex than that. The simple fact is that violence is a core component of many gameplay mechanics, something that can be seen in plenty of all ages video games as well. What’s more, even games that feature a stylistic depiction of violence that’s miles removed from how it occurs in real life can still desensitize children to violent acts and reduce their empathy for victims.

Different factors

Still, it’s worth noting that not every child is affected in the exact same way. Some children are more prone to feeling the negative effects of video games, especially those who are easily upset and have a tendency towards rash decision-making. Factors such as family instability, financial difficulties and peer rejection can also have negative impact on a young child and cause him to seek solace in video games, which in turn leads to more social isolation and anxiety at dealing with the real world.

Another important factor that’s worth pondering these days has everything to do with the widespread adoption of Internet connectivity as one of the central tenets behind gaming. For the most part, games in the past were installed via CDs or DVDs and didn’t require an Internet connection to run.

Now, however, titles ranging from massive online multiplayer games to single player campaigns are reliant on Internet connectivity, thus forcing gamers to stay online during the entire duration of their gaming sessions. Needless to say, the Internet isn’t exactly safe terrain for a young child who cannot yet tell right from wrong. The possibility of being spied on through various gaming consoles has already been widely discussed, but there’s also the risk of your child being subjected to humiliating taunts or even threats over the Internet.

What should we do?

In such circumstances, parents need to take action early on in order to prevent their children from suffering harm.

For starters, capping your young one’s access to video games at two hours or less per day is a good idea. Furthermore, you can encourage kids to spend more time outdoors, where they can forge bonds with real people and engage in various physical activities that are good for their bodies as well as their minds.

You’ll also need to pay close attention to the video games that find their way onto your child’s computer or gaming console. Mature and violent games should only be played by adults who already have a strong grasp on reality and aren’t as easily influenced. Finally, if your child shows a real interest towards video games, you should consider opening up to the idea that, while some video games are off the table, others can be safely enjoyed. Particularly hip parents have been known to join in on the fun as well, thus opening up new avenues of bonding with their children.

All in all, video games are not the menace to society they are sometimes said to be. If consumed in healthy doses and at the right ages, they can provide valuable hours of entertainment for most individuals. But since children are still “people in training”, a certain level of supervision is needed and can ultimately prove beneficial to your child’s overall development.

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