Are Video Games Helpful or Harmful? 11 Considerations
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Your child comes home from school and can’t wait to hit their game console. Should you allow them to have their fun or insist that they engage in other activities?
Many parents worry about their children spending too much time gaming. There’s little doubt that excess screen time can have adverse effects, but are these pastimes dangerous in moderation? Here are 11 considerations to make when determining if your kid’s video games are helpful or harmful.
Are All Video Games Bad?
Video games have enjoyed considerable popularity ever since the first Atari systems hit the market in 1975. While they’ve evolved since then, they’ve done so amid a public relations hit. Much of the media surrounding this pastime is negative.
While it’s true that too much screen time can have adverse health effects, playing a console in moderation isn’t in itself a cause for concern. You can set reasonable limits on your child’s play, perhaps allowing no more than 30 minutes on school nights and an hour or two on weekends.
Why not transform gaming into a teachable moment? You can also educate them on how to protect their vision using techniques such as 20-20-20, where you pause every 20 minutes to look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This method comes in handy when they later spend hours at a computer for work or school.
Some games can help your child learn. For example, many teachers have found innovative ways to integrate “Minecraft” into the classroom. Other educational games became boons for parents, especially when keeping their kids occupied during quarantine.
Despite the bad press they receive, video games aren’t universally bad. Like most things, they have both positive and negative effects.
Positive Effects of Video Games
Playing video games offers many developmental perks for your little ones. Here are some of the benefits.
1. Eye-Hand Coordination
Children need to develop their motor skills. Games such as those designed for the Nintendo Wii challenge their hand-eye coordination, leading to improvements.
2. Introduce Children to Technology
Knowing how to use and troubleshoot technology is a must in today’s world. However, your child might not naturally take to computer science classes. They’ll become regular geniuses when the incentive is to play their favorite game.
3. Make Learning More Fun
Did you struggle to homeschool your child over the past year? If they have to quarantine again, why not set them up with one of this year’s top educational video games to keep them learning while they’re out of school?
4. Inspire Creativity
Some video games let your child activate their imagination. For example, they might design a fictional home or other building or create art through media.
5. Encourage Cooperation
Multiplayer video games can unite people from all over the globe right in your living room. Your child might embark on a virtual mission with a friend from Dubai, UAE.
6. Get Young Bodies Moving
You want your children active and moving, but the weather doesn’t always cooperate. However, games such as “Just Dance” and “Fitness Boxing” bring the gym to your living room while letting your kids have a blast.
Negative Effects of Video Games
Video games do have their drawbacks. Here are five reasons to let your kids play in moderation.
1. They Can Be Violent
Probably the most frequent video game criticism is that they inspire violence. Many studies have investigated the link with mixed results. However, some research indicates an association between adolescent aggression and exposure to such content.
2. It Can Become Addictive
You probably notice if your child has a video game addiction. If they refuse to budge from the screen to participate in other activities, you may have to temporarily cut the cord.
3. It Could Cause Brain Damage
Some evidence suggests that kids who play games by learned response may have gray matter shrinkage, possibly indicating mild damage or lack of neuroplasticity. However, games that require children to use spatial strategies can increase the size of the hippocampus, so evidence remains inconclusive.
4. It Negatively Affects Academic Achievement
Another reason to limit screen time is that excess video gaming can negatively affect academic achievement. Keep an eye on your child’s grades, and consider cutting back if they start to slip.
5. It Can Promote Social Isolation
Even multiplayer video games are no substitute for human interaction. If your child’s only friend is the screen, you may have to cut back on their use.
Are Video Games Helpful or Harmful? It All Depends on How You Use Them
Like most inanimate objects, video games are neither inherently helpful nor harmful. The difference all lies in playing in moderation and using these tools wisely.