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Video games have been around for more than three decades. However, in today's world, the sophisticated nature of computer gaming necessitates more focus from players. The players are typically mentally and physically involved in these sports. This degree of involvement is not seen on other channels, such as watching television or movies. Parents who have children who have played, are currently actively engaged in playing or are expected to play video games in the future have children who have played, are currently actively involved in playing, or are expected to play video games in the future. In the U.S for instance, an estimated 81 percent of youths participate in playing video games at least once every month. Of this estimate, at least 8.5 percent are addicted to a video game. Children averaging the ages of 8-12 years spend averagely 13 hours every week playing video games. Oder children averaging the age of 13-18 years spend an average of 14 hours per week of play. Since this type of game has become so prominent in the modern world, parents may have difficulties stopping their children from playing.
Children and adolescent exposure to video games
In the life of a child, different aspects are targeted by the video games. Video games can, for example, be educational, casual, and educational among other types. However, in reality, children are more inclined to the violent games compared to the others. Such games have consistently grown in popularity among children of both genders. These video games, however, have some negative impacts on the lives of the consumers
Children who indulge highly in playing violent video games end up spending most of their time on the game at the expense of physically exercising outside on the playground. Children would rather spend 13-14 hours in a week playing the online video games rather than spare an hour for physical exercise here and there. When children spend all this time on the computer, they miss out on their social life. Their inability to get out and get involved in co-curricular activities denies them the opportunity to meet new people and make friends.
Impacts of video games
By spending much of their time playing, teenagers and kids fail to involve themselves in physical activities that are likely to keep them healthy. Instead, they become lazy and feel that they would rather remain indoors and not play outside. As a result, most kids risk becoming obese and overweight. According to the 2009-2010 report by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), 12.1% of kids between the ages of 2 and 5 years were obese, 18% of those aged between 6 to 11 years were obese, and 18.4% of teenagers aged between 12 and 19 years old were obese. These statistics do not include those who are overweight. The numbers are alarming and a shift in attitude is necessary to correct the situation. The absence of physical activity coupled with the tendency for snacking at the time of gaming makes children more prone to health complications.
Spending more time playing video games may also present harmful mental health conditions to the teenagers. Children who play video games for longer hours risk suffering from the underdevelopment of the section of their brain that is responsible for movement, the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe also performs the functions of controlling an individual’s behavior, involved in learning, and planning. Therefore, the affected teenagers are more likely to experience a negative feedback as far as their acquisition of academic excellence is concerned (McVeigh).
Video games that contain violent contents result into aggression among the youths. This becomes a major concern since a larger percentage of the games are related to violence in one way or another. In addition, most of the teenagers, especially boys show greater attraction to games that contain violence. According to Gentile and Anderson (2003), video games are likely to increase aggressive behavior among teenagers since violent acts are repeated throughout the entire game
When parents allow children to take part in spending their time playing video games that portray the themes of violent activities like gun shooting, killing, and robbery, in some way sands a message to the children that these acts are just okay. It is alarming that most of the gamers are not able to differentiate between the games and the actual world (Greitemeyer 2014).
Apart from acquiring violent behaviours, teenagers may also learn wrong values from these games. In most video games, the woman character is portrayed as weak. They are presented as helpless personalities who are sexually provocative. This may get into the minds of the teenage males leading to the creation of a gender gap in the society. In addition, the use of bad language is also common in video gaming. This may affect the teens and children negatively and degrade the social morals of a country.
Social isolation can be identified as another effect of video gaming. This is because the children spend the larger part of their time indoors, playing games at the expense of interacting with their peers outdoors. The lack of social interaction limits children’s abilities to develop effective social skills making them unable to start and maintain healthy and meaningful relationships in their adult life. Instead, the gamer retreats to the online world, where it is easy to build relationships with imaginary characters. Such children are less likely to be involved in sporting activities hence they are not able to realize their talents.
Effect on education and career.
All these effects of video gaming can be summed up in one word: addiction. For most children and teenagers, gaming has become a regular part of their days. The addiction to the gaming usually presents a conflict in the relationships of the victims. It also interferes with their abilities to pursue their goals. For instance, the ability of the children to attain good academic results can greatly be compromised since most of their time is dedicated to gaming at the expense of studying. Individuals with the greater potential of becoming future leaders may be forced to settle for much less since such people end up wasting their valuable time as youths. This waste of valuable talent is usually detrimental, not only to the person but also to the society (Campbell 2006).
Preventing game addiction among kids
In order to ensure proper social, academic and psychological development of children, parents must step in and ensure that some necessary regulations are followed concerning video gaming. This will help in preventing addiction and allow the participation of the children in other crucial activities.
This can be achieved by limiting the time that children are allowed to play video games. Parents can provide alternative sources of entertainment for their kinds such as encouraging them to participate in outdoor extracurricular activities. Parents and/or guardians should also always remain up to date with the latest information regarding video gaming. They should be able to monitor what their children interact with and the impact it can have on them. Knowing the content of the latest video game in the market enables the parent to regulate children’s interaction with it.
It is necessary that the parents and the guardians make wise decisions when it comes to buying gadgets for the kids or allowing the children to take part in video gaming. It is no doubt that video gaming has some positive impacts on the gamers. However, due to the adverse negative impacts associated with it, parents need to step in and take control of the situation. They should take the responsibility of regulating the type of game the child is involved and the amount of time that should be spent gaming each day.
Campbell, Lynn E. McCutcheon & Janice D. "The Impact Of Video Game Playing On Academic Performance At A Community College." Community Junior College Research Quarterly of Research and Practice ( Jul 2006): 59-63.
Gentile, D. A. & Anderson, C. A. "The newest media violence hazard. In D. A. Gentile (Ed.), Media violence and children." Violent video games: (2003): Praeger Publishing.Westport.
Greitemeyer, Jack Hollingdale & Tobias. "The Effect of Online Violent Video Games on Levels of Aggression." (November 2014).
McVeigh, T. "Computer games stunt teen brains." The Observer (2001): 11, 55-57.
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