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The Impact of Video Games on Children

The modern world is full of entertainment, but there is also another world that seems to gradually supersede the reality while offering much more fun, at least, at first sight. Nowadays, video games have become a popular form of entertainment and an enjoyable way of spending free time. With the developments in computer design and digital technology, video games are getting more and more popular and influential, and the problem is particularly serious when it comes to concerning children. Taking into account the fact that more and more young people get addicted to video games, it is necessary to understand their effects.

Numerous studies have been conducted on the impacts of video games on people’s consciousness. Therefore, with the help of my research, I have found out that video games are associated with negative effects on children’s consciousness and health; however, they also produce a significant positive impact on their physical and psychological well-being, as despite of prompting violence in children, they also teach them how to solve tasks, cope with hardships, being responsible, loyal, and what it means to be a team player.
In order to complete this assignment, I use variety of different sources. While some of them are just popular articles from mass media, the others are scholarly ones and present the results of academic researches. For instance, a report by Vinay Devnath “14 Reasons Why Playing Video Games Is Actually Very Good For You” enumerates advantages of video games using informal language that would be understandable even to a teenager: “Unless you are a genius gamer, you fail the first time and then take another shot, but this time you are thinking of a different novel way to beat that mean bastard”. Indeed, video games are not that gruesome as some people might tend to think.

On the contrary, the authors of the article “The Psychological Effects of Video Games on Young People: A Review” discuss the psychological effects of video games providing relevant statistics and numbers. The author states that: “With recent research indicating that children aged 8 to 11 years play on average 12 hours a week and the children aged between 12 to 14 year play 15 hours per week, the role of video games is ever-increasing in the world of young people” (McLean and Griffiths 120). There is no need to deny the fact that video games are nowadays ubiquitous and that the industry will only continue growing as the number and the quality of technologies used for video gaming are evolving on a daily basis. Nonetheless, there is no need to be afraid of them; there is only the need for using their benefits to the full and mitigating their negative impacts.
I have also consulted a book Why Video Games Are Good For Your Soul by James Gee. The author highlights such benefits of video games as the ability to learn new skills and become a better version of oneself while being just a character in virtual reality (Gee 32). That is, video games are not necessarily noxious to a child’s psychological well-being, as sometimes that characters and their actions can teach them a lot of positive things, like responsibility, devotion to one’s cause, and loyalty.

While working on the paper, I have also consulted the scrutinized topic from a medical point of view which helped me understand the impact of video games on one’s health. In her article, “How Video Games Affect the Brain”, Hannah Nichols states that: “Video game use is known to affect attention. The studies included in the review show that video game players display improvements in several types of attention, including sustained attention and selective attention”. Therefore, instead of demonizing the video games for teaching children violence and brutality, it should be taken into consideration that they also develop their cognitive abilities. Of course, such a positive impact of the video games is only possible when the time a child spends in front of the monitor is being controlled by parents; nonetheless, this is always the matter of choosing the content of the game and the time spent playing it.
What is more, video games are not to be blamed for infusing children with aggression and violence as they are definitely not the primary source from where a child’s negative attitude towards the surroundings stems from. In the article called “The Positive and Negative Effects of Video Game Play”, Sarah Prot et al. claim that: “Because aggression is influenced by a large number of risk factors, no single factor can explain more than a small fraction of variability in aggression” (114). Hence, it should be understood that children are mostly resorting to playing video games not in order to get charged with aggression but to rather let it out of their minds. Meanwhile, such factors as domestic violence, parental alcoholism, poverty, academic failures, etc. should be classified as the primary causative factors of aggression in children.
Of course, there are various video games which can impact a child’s brain differently. In accordance with Jack Hollingdale and Tobias Greitemeyer, who have conducted a study on the violence levels of the content of a number of video games, “The manipulation check identified that participants in the violent video game condition reported that the violent video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 depicted a more violent content and more violent graphics compared to the neutral video game Little Big Planet 2” (3). The researchers are one hundred percent right, as this game, on the one hand, teaches children that the concept of war is noble and that killing people is a task one can only long for. Thus, this aspect of video games is the one to be condemned in terms of impact on children’s psychology.
However, in her article “The Benefits of Playing Video Games”, Isabela Granic makes it clear to her readers that video games are rather positive than negative when it comes to talking about one’s psychological well-being. The author states: “Contrary to conventional beliefs that playing video games is intellectually lazy and sedating, it turns out that playing these games promotes a wide range of cognitive skills” (Granic et al. 68). As a matter of fact, the author refutes the point made by Hollingdale and Greitemeyer by proving that namely the action games, which are also called shooters, boost the productivity of a child’s brain by training his or her attention, agility, and the speed of reaction. What is more, video games are often aimed at the resolution of the tasks of various levels of complicity, thus, teaching children how to synthesize and analyze information and then use it for their own benefit.

On the contrary, video games lead to desensitization to violence, aggressive thoughts, the lack of real-life communication, and physical health problems. While talking about cruelty in video games, it is necessary to mention that among the most popular video games, are the ones that deal with either military actions or simple gang crimes. For example, one of the most popular video games in the world, Grand Theft Auto, teaches children that being a gangster is the aim in life they all shall strive for, as the life of crime in it is represented as romantic and easy. The game characters can rob or kill anyone they want and get a lot of money for it. Unfortunately, not every child is capable of understanding that they cannot start a mission again if they fail, as there is no option to save their current progress in real life. Even though there is plenty of other video games that, for example, allow one to design a virtual house or even conduct a surgery, the majority of players prefer the games, where they can shoot each other.
Unsurprisingly, video games are associated with violence and even aggression. That is, when discussing the results of the study of gamers in their article “The Psychological Effects Of Videogames”, McLean and Griffiths claim that “the presence of blood in a violent video game predicted more physical aggression amongst a group of adults” (124). As one can see, video games extend its influence to real-life situations. One should also remember that video games players can spend days in front of their computers and, thus, often suffer from back and even heart problems as the functioning of this organ depends greatly on the muscle tone. Finally, after long hours of staring at the screen, they are also exposed to the risk of losing their sight.
What is more, video games can be linked to substance use, gambling, and careless driving. As the players get involved in the criminal and cruel world of video games, they are looking for the same experiences in the real world. As a result, they tend to be more willing to try dangerous substances and even drive carelessly looking for adrenaline and risky experiences. Furthermore, with the flow of time, the need in such strong sensations is constantly rising. In accordance with Nichols, “In gaming addicts, there are functional and structural alterations in the neural reward system – a group of structures associated with feeling pleasure, learning, and motivation”. That is, this dependency on the virtual world can transform into a serious malady that deprives and individual of his or her abilities to distinguish between the real and virtual worlds.
At the same time, video games have considerable learning potential, improve creativity, enhance problem-solving and socializing skills, teach perseverance, and promote a healthy lifestyle. For instance, statistics show that “70% of all gamers play with someone else on the Internet” (Devnath). Moreover, one should also pay attention to the fact that many players gather together to spend time with friends and play video games together. For them, it is just another hobby, which allows to make new acquaintances and relax after the long day.
One more factor that can add to the benefits of playing video games is that they teach children how to be financially responsible. It is quite often that video games are based on going through various levels of tasks the completion of which lets the players purchase new items, develop their characters, etc. For example, one of the most popular serial sport simulators in the world, FIFA, teaches a player how to handle the finances of the biggest football clubs in the world, which is quite a hard task. This is nothing else but a preliminary school of management, as if the player wants his team to win all the tournaments, he or she has to create of plan of expenditures and then do the best he can for implementing it.
As a matter of fact, video games can also prompt the development of a child’s social interaction skills. In accordance with Hollingdale and Greitemeyer: “Consideration could also be given to potential positive effects of playing prosocial video games online, as playing a prosocial video game (where the main objective of the game is to benefit video game characters) increases prosocial behaviour and empathy and decreases the accessibility of aggressive thoughts, and reduces aggressive behaviour” (4). Therefore, this is always the matter of the content of the game and the outer real-life factors that define the type of impact a game would have on an individual.
In addition, video games contribute greatly to the development of spatial and visual skills as the players are constantly following their characters and have to notice the smallest details to win. According to Nakamura’s article “Video Games: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly”, where she discusses the effects of video games, “on visual and perceptual tasks such as tracking an object or switching attention to a different object, gamers have higher scores than non-gamers” (4). Consequently, it is evident that despite spending much time at the desk playing video games, the gamers master the skills related to visual and spatial perception.
Taking into account the facts mentioned in the previous paragraph, the disadvantages of video gaming outweigh its advantages. That is, even though gamers improve their creative, social, and perceptional skills with the help of video games, they have serious issues with health because of spending long hours at the desk. Moreover, video games players experience negative effects of such entertainment on their mood and even personality because of higher levels of aggression and irritability. Indeed, there is not acquittal for the video games for the violence and aggression that they infuse the children with. Of course, they can teach a lot of positive things, but this is only true when a child is cognizant of how to analyze what he or she sees on the screen of the computer or a console.
In conclusion, video games are becoming more and more popular in today’s digital era, and children are the ones, who are exposed to them the most. Apart from being viewed as disadvantageous for children’s health, video games are also associated with considerable benefits for both physical and mental state. Video games and their impact should be critically analyzed in order to make the best use out of their learning potential while eliminating possible negative consequences. It goes without saying that video games can teach children a lot of positive things and can even provoke their volition for social interaction. Nonetheless, it should be constantly kept in mind that video games are created for earning money by the corporations and companies that develop them. Hence, video games can only be of a positive impact to children when the parents control their content and the time the children spend in front of the screen.

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