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Gaming and its effects on teens and adolescents has become a notorious issue in our society today. There have been several debates on this topic with some people insisting that gaming can have serious detrimental effects on the lives of the teens/adolescents while others argue that gaming has positive effects on the young generation. Today, a big percentage of teenagers play various types of games including gambling and video games being the most popular. Gaming is a unique form of entertainment that can have both positive and negative effects on the teens/adolescents’ physical and mental health, behavior, comprehensive abilities, and learning capabilities.
Gaming can help teens/adolescents improve their computer literacy, eye coordination, and manual dexterity. Most games are played on computers and while a teen learns to play these games, this improves his/her computer literacy. Nowadays, due to the use of technology in nearly everything, people have to learn how to use a computer efficiently. Therefore, even though teenagers might be enrolled in computer classes to learn, the use of computers in playing games help them improve their computer literacy. Parong et al. note that, while playing games, especially shooter games, adolescents can learn visual, manual, and eye-hand coordination skills (148). While playing, a gamer need to keep track of the speed, direction, and the opponent and this is done with the coordination of the eyes, the hands, and the brains both at work. Therefore, with gaming, teenagers learn how to multi-task whereby they use their eyes, brain, and hands at the same time and these are special skills that can be applied to their education and social life.
In addition, gaming can help boost the learning capabilities. Any game comes with a learning manual whereby a player has to learn how to play the game before playing it. Therefore, while these young people concentrate on learning the skills of the games to excel, this enhances their learning skills/capabilities because they become better learners (Gee 120). In fact, in most games, one has to use the brain while predicting the next move or even while trying to win the challenge. The brain has to process the data, which is coordinated with both the hands and the eyes to make a move in the game (Anderson, Gentile, and Buckley 48). Hence, this puts the brain at work, and alert at all times and this can improve an individual’s learning skills. Therefore, gaming can increase the teens/adolescents learning capabilities as they help them to think and learn fast as they explore the game challenges and this can benefit them in their academic achievements.
According to Granic, Lobel, and Engels, teens/adolescents who engage in gaming tend to have high scores compared to those who spend most of their leisure time doing nothing or even just on social media (66). This means that gaming can boost literacy skills and the learning motivation. Any child who likes gaming is always ready to face a challenge and win it because most games involve puzzles and challenges before one wins or rather goes to the next challenge. In addition, most of these young people will always compete against each other to win and most of these teens will always apply the same thinking and passion for gaming to excel in their education and their everyday life (Granic, Lobel, and Engels 66). In fact, gaming requires quick thinking to win and most gamers will always want to win against their peers both in their gaming platforms and in their classrooms.
Another positive effect of gaming is that it helps teenagers/adolescents learn to face their fears (Anderson, Gentile, and Buckley 108). Today, our society shelters the teens by hiding scary elements of life from them, which is not the way to go. However, if teenagers involve themselves in gaming activities especially in video games, they learn to face their fears and this is good for their development. When they play/battle with scary images, teenagers master emotional sensations and defensive/ life-saving skills that they can use in real life situation when faced with fear or danger.
Gaming cannot be defined just from one angle. Therefore, just like any other activity, gaming can have a myriad of adverse effects on teenagers and adolescents. In fact, they can have a detrimental effect on their behaviors and learning. According to Calvert et al., gaming can negatively affect a teenager’s learning capabilities because they pose serious mental and emotional harm that can disrupt their learning (126). Most teens spend several hours on gaming platforms and this harms them emotionally because they become destructive and hateful just like the characters in the games. In fact, gaming makes teenagers less sensitive to pain and this affects how they treat and communicate with each other. Most of these teenagers end up becoming less sensitive to pain and so they feel no pain when they hurt others and when they are hurt and this is detrimental to their behavior and mental health thus having a negative effect on their education and social life.
In addition, gaming, especially violent video games are linked to aggressive behaviors in adolescents. This is a great concern in the society because most video games contain violent content that is making the teens more aggressive with each other and the people around them just to identify with the heroes in the games (Cornell 140). In most video games, most players identify with the roles of the hero or rather a favorite character to excel over their peers. In fact, in most games, one has to win a challenge or a battle/fight to move to the next step and this means that one has to be violent in the game to win. Violent acts are mostly repeated in the games and this can make the player violent in his/her daily life (Nakamuro et al. 32). As a result, most teenagers will always apply the skills in their real life and end up hurting the people around them with the aggression learned in the games.
It is true that gaming can have adverse effects on teens and adolescents. However, if some games are approved by educators and parents/guardians as well as played in moderation, they can help improve the young people’s concentration and in learning (Choo et al. 1437). While gaming continues to receive a lot of criticism from many people focusing on its potentially detrimental effects, gaming can also have positive effects on the overall lives of the young generation. We live in a modern world where technology is advancing day by day. Gaming, especially video games that are not violent can be powerful tools that can help teenagers to develop important life and learning skills. In addition, Hamari et al. note that, if teenagers play challenging games, it can help improve their learning capabilities (179). Games help to improve the functionality of the brain because a gamer has to think hard to excel to the next step and win against his/her competitors and the same if applied in academics, will improve a teen’s grades.
Games excite and stimulate an individual making his/her brains alert. Therefore, as much as gaming can have adverse effects on the lives of teens/adolescents, it is important to focus on its positive side because this is a digital era and some things cannot be avoided. Games are here to stay especially in this digital era. Therefore, just like any other activity, they should be used in moderation because of their positive attributes (Kowert and Quandt 40). Various types of games help the young people to hone problem-solving skills as well as to develop a great sense of self-assurance and task-management skills (Greenfield 150). However, it is important to limit the time teens spend o gaming because this can be detrimental to their health and even academic performance.
Overall, there are positive and negative attributes to gaming for adolescents since their brains are still developing. In addition, there is potential gaming addiction among teenagers if not regulated. Owing to the increasing use of technology, games are here to stay as new ones are being developed every day. Therefore, boundaries need to be set whereby parents and educators get involved in the life of adolescents in the game world and in the real world (Choo et al. 1440). Gaming can harm teenagers, but again, it can be a good tool for entertainment and learning as well as long as it is done in moderation. Therefore, teens/adolescents and gaming need a close monitoring because of the adverse effects these games, especially violent games, and gambling can have on their lives. It is prudent for parents and educators to find moderation in gaming since the developers have ratings and information on the content of the games for them to make informed choices for the teenagers.
In conclusion, over the years, there has been a great debate about how gaming affects the behavior and the minds of adolescents/teens. In fact, gaming addiction has become a prevalent concern among some researchers, with some insisting that gaming has adverse effects on adolescents while others argue that it has positive effects on them. However, it is evident that it has both positive and negative effects on their overall life. On the positive side, gaming can help improve the brain functionality, thinking, and learning capabilities of the young people. On the negative side, gaming can drive adolescents to brutality and violent behaviors as well as affect their learning since today, most of the teenagers spend most of their time gaming and less on learning. Therefore, gaming can remarkably affect the lives of teens/adolescents in both a positive and a negative way. Hence, as much as it is a form of entertainment as well as a learning tool, teenagers should learn to use this form of technology accordingly by putting into consideration its adverse and positive effects on their everyday life. The proper use of gaming can be a good form of entertainment for adolescents as well as help them gain useful skills to use in their both education and life. However, if its use is out of control, gaming can come with far-reaching effects on today’s teens.
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