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There has been a good amount of research in understanding the video-game effects on the development of children. Games come in all shapes and forms and some can be entertaining and relaxing, while others could be challenging and good to learn. However, not all games are good for children and their effects can vary from being beneficial to turning into an addiction.
Positive Effects of Video Games on Children
Here are some of the advantages of playing video games for children.
1. Working Together as a Team
Most games these days are played online or have a multiplayer mode that allows your kid to play it with their friend or with many others over the internet. This helps in building the skills required to work together as a team and solve problems together.
2. Better Decision Making
Games function in real time and most games are fast paced that required the player to make quick decisions in a short period of time. This helps in sculpting the decision-making skills in a child that are necessary for certain real-life applications like sports or medicine, where split-second decisions are necessary to be taken under pressure.
3. Maintaining Accuracy in Fast Decisions
Making quick decisions is of no use if they are going to be wrong. Video games help your kid maintain a good level of accuracy by learning to calculate all the dependent parameters fast. This is extremely useful, which is why even soldiers and doctors are advised to play video games to sharpen their short-term decision-making skills.
4. Coordination Between Hands and Eyes
Developing the skills to control motor functions without looking at them takes a good amount of time. By playing video games, kids begin to learn what movement of their limbs will have an effect to what degree in the space and visual references before them. This hand-eye coordination is required in nearly all sports and can even be beneficial in puzzle solving.
5. Better Cognitive Functioning
When a certain skill is repeated multiple times, the brain starts developing its structure and creates new neural pathways and transmitters to optimize its functioning. This has been observed in musicians and artists and is also seen while playing video games too. In times when intense concentration is applied, the brain moulds itself to be able to solve problems faster, which can ultimately also help in solving issues in real life.
Negative Effects of Video Games on Children
The disadvantages of playing video games are also pronounced. Some of them include:
1. Health Issues
Kids who spend a lot of time playing video games instead of indulging in physical activities can harm their health in a variety of ways. Constantly sitting in one place and playing video games at length can increase the chances of obesity, weaken the muscles and joints, make hands and fingers numb due to over-exertion, and can even weaken eyesight.
2. Academic Issues
The excitement and fun that video games provide are in stark contrast to a typical day in school. This can cause kids to prefer video games over anything else and fail to pay attention at school. Even outside school, they may skip homework or studying for tests and choose to play video games instead, resulting in poor performance.
3. Exposure to Wrong Values
Many video games in the market are oriented towards the mature audience. These video games contain excessive violence, over-the-top sexuality, profanity, racism, and many other aspects that cannot be perceived by kids in the right manner. They fail to take these depictions with a pinch of salt and end up trying to emulate the same behaviour as portrayed in the games.
4. Socially Disconnected
Even though multiplayer games exist, most kids end up playing them by themselves in their own rooms. This severely limits their interpersonal skills in real life, preferring to be by themselves and interact digitally. Such kids fail to strike up conversations and feel bored and out of place at social gatherings, too.
5. Aggressive Behaviour
The violent content in video games and the instant gratification that they provide can cause the kids to be impatient and aggressive in their behaviour. When things fail to go as planned or any restrictions are laid on kids, they can lash out or start harbouring aggressive thoughts that can manifest in troublesome behaviour.
Signs of Video Game Addiction in Kids
Video games are quite easy to get addicted to. Your child may be addicted if he has the following symptoms.
The first sign of addiction is always being defensive about it and denying that it exists. Even after providing proof, your kid may refuse to accept the fact that they are wasting time in gaming.
2. Game Related Expenses
Your child may ask you for money to be spent in buying various items for the game or upgrading the computer to play a new game. At times, he may end up stealing money to fuel the gaming habit.
3. Disinterest in Other Aspects of Life
The video game and its world may take over the kid to such an extent that friends and family start to seem boring and mundane. Neglecting other activities such as studying will result in a reduced academic performance. Some kids fail to maintain basic hygiene as well, skipping baths for days on end, spending all the time playing games.
4. Uncontrolled Gaming Times
Your child may promise you to play only for 10 minutes, or until they finish a particular level or so on. But in reality, they fail to stop themselves and keep playing for longer hours, unknown to them, too.
5. Unable to Process Failure
In case your child loses in a game or fails to complete a mission, they will be unreasonably angry and very frustrated with themselves, unable to realize that it is simply a video game.
6. Hiding and Playing
If you end up scolding or restricting your child from playing, he will try to find out ways to play the game in secret without letting you find out. He might start lying or making up excuses to play the game just for a few minutes.
7. Constantly Preoccupied
Even when away from the video game, your child will appear distracted and lost in thought, usually thinking about something related to the game or constantly talking about it. Any mention of the gaming habit could end up irritating him.
How Can Parents Help Children Enjoy Video Games Properly and Avoid Problems?
There are many pros and cons of video games for children, but parents can keep certain aspects in mind to ensure that kids can enjoy the games without any problems.
- Don’t allow your children to play video games when they are in preschool.
- Before buying a game or letting your child play it, check the rating, the age limit, and any content warnings provided with it.
- Try to play the game yourself and make yourself a part of their world. Your child will open up by discussing various aspects of the game.
- Keep fixed and restricted times for playing games, in matters of time as well as the type of games played. This includes playing games at a friend’s place, too.
- Keep a track of any online interactions your kid has with strangers and ensure they do not reveal any personal details to anyone.
- Make sure the gaming area is in public view and you can easily spot the screen from afar.
- If you are a gamer, enforce the same rules for yourself so that the kid learns from you.
- Allow your kids to play video games only after they complete their homework and other tasks.
- Make other physical activities or outdoor sports a part of the child’s life as well.
Make other physical activities or outdoor sports a part of your child’s life as well.
Video games aren’t advisable for young kids as the light from screens tends to affect their eyes. Such games also expose tender minds to inappropriate values and morals, which is why, you should try some other activities to keep your child happily engaged for long. You can buy craft kits to keep your child busy. A fun-filled activity box with worksheets and storybooks is a great way to keep your kid busy!