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How Gaming Consoles Influence the Youth

Introduction

Nowadays, young people are involved in numerous activities unknown to their parents. The reason for it is that technologies rapidly and continuously change, dramatically reshaping humans’ lives. At certain times, it causes considerable benefits; at other times, it leads to adverse consequences. Gaming consoles are popular products among American young people who spend hours every week playing video games. This industry is growing fast, engaging more and more consumers willing to pay for gaming consoles with new features and high-quality video games. Without any doubt, the devices affect not only people’s budget but also their physical, mental, and social health; thus, it is essential to realize how they influence millions of Americans in order to increase benefits and minimize threats.

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Gaming Consoles among the Youth

Video games and gaming consoles were designed long ago, though they have gained enormous popularity relatively recently. According to Ayenigbara (1), they have been in existence and have attracted many users worldwide since the 1970s. Video games can be played on different devices, such as tablets, smartphones, and personal computers (PCs), which offer numerous functions, though gaming consoles are designed solely to play video games. Most gamers prefer to use gaming PCs or gaming consoles rather than mobile phones or tablets. Consoles have many advantages, including lower prices and high user-friendliness, as well as some disadvantages, such as a narrower range of games available compared with PCs. In general, the devices are in high demand nowadays and can be found in millions of Americans’ homes. Vazharov (par. 6) notes, “due to the insanely high demand, pre-ordering the latest Xbox and PlayStation gaming consoles is quite a challenge.” Hence, the topic of how they influence the youth is relevant.

People of different ages play video games on gaming consoles, though it is evident that most of them are young people. Ayenigbara (1) emphasizes that video games are the most popular among adolescents, even though they do not require physical stamina and are not limited by age, gender, and fitness. The reasons for that are that the youth have more free time and are more tech-savvy than other population groups. First, adults owe extra responsibilities and duties; thus, they cannot spend several hours every day in front of screens. In contrast, adolescents who do not care about stable jobs and their own children have more time to devote to playing video games. Second, adults are often less good at technology compared with young people. Hence, they are likely to be involved in more traditional activities, such as reading books, checking the news, and eating out with friends or colleagues.

In addition, gaming consoles are becoming more and more sophisticated, making it difficult to resist the temptation to play video games. Vazharov (par. 9-11) states that Microsoft Xbox One X, Nintendo Switch, and Sony PlayStation 4 Pro are the best devices offering many different features and making users’ experiences even more enjoyable and unforgettable than before. Considering that gaming consoles producers work diligently to attract more customers, especially among young people, it is essential to be aware of the effects of the devices.

Physical Health

The youth’s physical health is negatively affected by gaming consoles, and it is incredibly challenging to find any advantages. According to Ayenigbara (2), individuals who remain physically inactive for long periods and prefer sedentary activities are at higher risk of vision issues, musculoskeletal problems, and obesity. First, vision-related problems are common among most adolescents nowadays, as they spend substantial amounts of time in front of screens daily. However, the problem is likely to be graver among passionate gamers, who fully concentrate on video games, not adjusting lightning and blinking as rarely as possible. It may lead to eye discomfort, blurry vision, and even damaged eyesight. Moreover, extensive and fixed staring at screens may cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, and vomiting (Ayenigbara 2). Therefore, gaming consoles may provoke serious vision-related issues, but they can be minimized (not avoided) by following some rules.

Second, excessive playing of video games can cause different musculoskeletal problems, challenging to deal with. Playing on gaming consoles is a passive activity requiring users’ hands solely. Therefore, if young people invest much time in it, they harm their joints, bones, muscles, spines, and other body systems. Gamers often suffer from pain in the neck, back, or hands due to their prolonged inactivity. Blisters, loosening of fingernails, tendon injuries, and postural problems are also the outcome of excessing gaming consoles use (Ayenigbara 2). Unfortunately, musculoskeletal issues may be invisible at first, though their symptoms are often chronic and severe.

Third, gaming consoles tempt the youth to stay in the comfort of their homes rather than get involved in different activities outdoors. Therefore, the lack of walking and exercising causes obesity, which is always accompanied by other conditions. According to Ayenigbara (2), “Several studies have linked television, video games, and increased Body Mass Index (BMI), and it has been estimated that children in the United States spend 25% of waking hours watching television or playing video games.” Gaming consoles producers add new features and make their products more sophisticated to catch consumers’ attention and reassure them to spend more time playing. Therefore, less time is left for going out with friends, exercising, and walking.

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Mental Health

Unlike the effects of gaming consoles on physical health, the ones on mental health may be positive. Nevertheless, most of them are negative, which arouses much concern about the issue among a multitude of stakeholders. However, it is essential to note that the impact of gaming consoles on young people depends on numerous factors, ranging from game genres to the amount of time spent playing per day. As long as many adolescents play games with increased quality that makes them more realistic and invest substantial amounts of time in the activity, the issue undoubtedly deserves more attention. Without any doubt, video games alter the brain to some extent, and their consequences may be dangerous.

On the one hand, millions of parents, educators, social activists, and scholars all over the United States are concerned about the influence of gaming consoles on the youth. Most popular video games involve violence, as players’ main objectives include killing, stealing, and destroying. Heiden et al. (4) note that such psychological symptoms as depression, anxiety, and hostility are linked to the excessive playing of video games. These mental conditions are severe and far-reaching, as they adversely affect almost every aspect of life. Besides, many adolescents experience addiction to playing on consoles and cannot concentrate on more critical tasks.

On the other hand, gaming consoles may positively impact young people in different ways. For example, Heiden et al. (1) state, “Video gaming is known to have some benefits such as improving focus, multitasking, and working memory, but it may also come with costs when it is used heavily.” Undoubtedly, such advantages are significant and worth further appreciation. Besides, gaming consoles may be used for educational purposes, and possible benefits are likely to be enormous. Unfortunately, companies producing video games and gaming consoles are more focused on entertaining than educating their clients, as the former approach is more profitable. Nevertheless, gaming consoles may be beneficial for young people’s mental health.

Social Health

The social consequences of playing on consoles are more noticeable than the physical and mental ones and deserve special attention. To begin with, they largely depend on the reasons for playing video games. The most common among them are for entertaining and for breaking from everyday life, reality, and stress (see Fig. 1). Besides, young people play on consoles to build social connections, compete with their peers, and gain some reward (see Fig. 1). The second, third, and fourth most prevalent reasons may lead to disastrous social outcomes, while the rest have no effects or mostly positive ones.

Reasons for playing video games from Heiden et al
Fig. 1. Reasons for playing video games from Heiden et al. “The Association between Video Gaming and Psychological Functioning.”

It is crucial to realize that playing video games influences the youth’s social health to minimize adverse effects and make the most of positive ones. Nordby et al. (1) state, “With video games ability to provide pleasurable experiences, be highly motivating, entertaining and immediately rewarding, there is a preconception that gamers run the risk of getting distracted from their less engaging real-life obligations.” It is a common problem, especially among adolescents, to forget about the real world, preferring a virtual one. Unfortunately, it may be challenging for gamers to realize the differences between real-life and virtual achievements on their own, though they are distinct for non-gamers.

Much research is conducted on the issue nowadays, as it is incredibly relevant. Scholars’ conclusions may be unpredictable and even shocking, encouraging different stakeholders to take some action. For example, Heiden et al. (6) find out that gaming consoles may cause a lack of offline connections and poor school performance. Online social connections come at the cost of offline ones, and accomplishments in the virtual world come at the expense of academic success. Simultaneously, video games may help young children build connections and learn to work in a team. Moreover, during the coronavirus pandemic, numerous adolescents find relief in playing on gaming consoles online.

Conclusion

Gaming consoles, which were created about half a century ago, have gained much popularity and attracted numerous consumers worldwide, especially among young people. Producers of the devices work diligently to make their products more sophisticated, attract more clients, and earn more money. At the same time, scholars, educators, policymakers, and activists are concerned about the influence of playing video games on the youth. The outcomes of playing on gaming consoles can be divided into three categories, such as physical, mental, and social. The impact of video games is mostly negative, prevailing in each category. Young people suffer from different issues because of gaming consoles, ranging from obesity and postural problems to anxiety and a lack of social relationships. Nevertheless, they also help adolescents improve working memory and find relief. In general, gaming consoles’ effects can be both beneficial and harmful, though humans can eliminate the disadvantages and make the most of the advantages.

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Works Cited

Ayenigbara, Israel O. “Gaming Disorder and Effects of Gaming on Health: An Overview.” Journal of Addiction Medicine and Therapeutic Science, vol. 4, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1-3.

Heiden, Juliane M. et al. “The Association between Video Gaming and Psychological Functioning.” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 10, no. 1731, 2019, pp. 1-11.

Nordby, Kent et al. “Playing a Video Game Is More than Mere Procrastination.” BMC Psychology, vol. 7, no. 33, 2019, pp. 1-12.

Vazharov, Stefan. “We Tested Video Game Consoles to Help You Choose the Best One.” BestProducts, 2020, Web.

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