Video Games for kids- Yay or Nay?
Angry Birds, Minecraft, PUBG…..speak to any child and these names are likely to bring a wide smile to their faces. Video games for kids have today become a part of popular culture. Most children see it as a great way to spend some fun time while parents worry about the potential negative effects that these games can have.
Let us look at the issue comprehensively including both the positive and negative effects of video games on children
Positive Effects of Video Games On Kids
The answer to “are video games good for kids”, is a yes if you look at the fact that these games involve kids using their creativity and problem solving skills to achieve a certain goal. In fact, a research has also shown that video-games players have improved sensitivity towards their environment and quick decision-making powers.
With speed being of essence in most games, what the child also benefits from is improved hand-eye coordination and the use of visual-spatial ability. Fun fact- Pilots and surgeons who need efficient motor skills are being trained on video games. In fact you can check out the game, right here.
Video games are also known to improve multi-tasking abilities. A research has shown that children who played video games performed much better in a multiple-object tracking task. You can attribute this skill to children playing strategy games where a player has to deal with many variables and must be flexible and agile.
Negative Effects of Video Games
The effects of video games on children can of course also turn out to be negative. One of the biggest concerns in this area is the fact that many games promote aggression and violence. The fear and rightly so, is that on encountering violence through these games, children can become desensitized to it. While the jury is still out on whether or not these games lead to long-term aggression in kids, it is a potent concern.
The other concern is the fact that video games are extremely addictive. What that means is that they can interfere with everyday life. In fact, WHO even recognized “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior” , as a disorder. Of course for this diagnosis the behavioural pattern has to meet certain criteria, which includes:
- It should be evident over a period of 12 months
- It should result in impairment in education, personal, social, occupational or other aspects.
Even if we do not see it as a medical disorder, the impact of spending too much time in playing video games, can result in:
- Poor academic performance
- Adverse effect of health- This includes strain on the eyes as also negative health consequences that result from a sedentary lifestyle. So much so that children can sometimes skip meals or even sleep to play the games that they like.
So are video games for kids good or bad?
The answer to this question clearly lies in moderation. While on the one hand they can prove to be skill-honing tools, on the other, if they are used excessively, they can have an overwhelming effect on the child’s life. As long as the game is used for limited period of fun and happiness, it works well. The problem begins when children stop to see a life outside the video game.
While moderation may or may not come easily to children, it is up to parents to provide the necessary guidance as also ensure boundary setting for the children. With some effort, parents can ensure that the benefits of video games are optimized while minimizing their harm. Some of the things parents can do, include:
- Setting limits around how long and when the game can be played.
- Helping them choose educational games that help them with learning
- Find games that can act as a good bonding activity for the family
- Importantly, helping children recognize their own compulsive behavior. The idea is not to shame them but to patiently show them the right path. Needless to mention that if you find these games turning into an addiction for the child, you should not hesitate in seeking professional help.
Here’s to your child enjoying his favourite video game in moderation!