Video games have become very popular among children. There are different points of view concerning its influence on children. Some parents consider some games to be intellectual and useful for their children as far as such games develop their skills. Nevertheless, there are more disadvantages than advantages in modern video games. Parents should think over the influence of video games on their children. This research will be helpful for parents as well as for children.
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The video game industry has been developed over 30 years. Firstly, computers games were used only with educational aims in order to develop children’s academic skills. These games were primarily used in education and controlled by teachers during the educational process. When computers have become available for everyone and it has become an integral thing of every house the popularity of video games has increased. Children began playing video games at home without any control of the teachers or parents.
The use of new technologies and special effects has made computer games more popular among children. They have become more interesting and captivating. It is more interesting for children to play a computer game than to watch a movie as far as they want to feel themselves like the heroes. More and more children become the addicted players captivated with the unreal world of the game. The games are projected in such a way that they resemble the reality and children are often confused to identify where a real world and where the world of their favorite game is. They begin to imitate their favorite characters and do all the things in a real world done by these characters in the game. The impact of video games has been questioned by researchers, parents, educators and physicians nowadays (Gentile, 2004).
Negative Influence of Video Games on Children. The Popularity of Violent Video Games
Children spend great amount of time playing video games. According to the Wall Street Journal the preschoolers from two to five years old spend nearly 28 minutes a day (Gentile, 2004). It should be noted that boys spend more time playing computer games than girls. As for the representatives of elementary and middle-school populations, boys spend nearly 13 hours per week while girls only 5.5 hours per week (Gentile, 2004). The amount of time devoted to video games is increasing but not at the expense of TV. The time devoted to watching TV among children has become stable and is nearly 24 hours per week (Gentile, 2004). As a result, much time is devoted to electronic resources than to physical activities. Children have a lot of energy that should be burnt out. Sitting in front of the screens their energy is saved and it results in many health problems. Video games have a negative influence on children’s health. It is one of the main reasons of obesity, muscular, postural and skeletal disorders (Gentile, 2004). All these health problems are connected to the amount of time devoted to playing video games. There is no balance between sitting in front of the screens and physical activities. Heart problems are also caused with sedentary life-style. These problems are worsened with junk food. All these conditions make children vulnerable to many diseases.
The main negative influence on children is the encouragement of violence that is so popular in video games. The majority of children prefer violent games (Gentile, 2004). Children devoting much time to video games are more aggressive than those who are not very captivated with them. Violent games are the reason of psychological arousal.
There have been made different studies to demonstrate the influence of violent video games on a child’s psychic. Experimental studies demonstrate the increase of aggression among children playing violent video games. Correlational studies demonstrate the interconnection between the world of game and the aggression demonstrated by children in a real life. Longitudinal studies present the influence of violent video games on children’s behavior (Gentile, 2004).
All these studies present the consequences of the influence of violent video games including the tendency to aggressive behavior, the different kinds of protest against parents and teachers, engagement in fights with the peers, the degradation of intellectual skills and the worsening of school progress (Norcia). According to Gentile & Anderson (2003) these violent video games have such effects as far as the method of repetition which is so successfully used in pedagogy is practiced in violent computer games. “Violent acts are continually repeated” in the games and they are remembered well by the children. Subconsciously children begin to practice this violence in a real life in order to feel themselves like real heroes (Gentile & Anderson, 2003). The majority of violent video games are first person. They allow children to control the hero and associate themselves with the main character. As a result, children begin to think like their heroes. These games elevate violent behavior, aggressive thoughts and feelings. Such influence of violent video games is long-term and it is not a simple task to get rid of all negative effects influenced children.
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The effect of violent video games on children depends on the amount of time devoted to these games, healthy state, family conditions and upbringing. Children playing violent video games think that such kind of behavior is accepted in the society. They connect the notion of “hero” with violence. Many boys want to be a hero in their life and they associate this notion with violence and abuse. Such view of the hero is formed with the help of violent video games.
Viewing violence may cause “emotional desensitization” in a real life (Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children, 2000). Children devoted much time playing violent video games have become indifferent to human grief and violence in the society. These games form children’s understanding of the surrounding world. As a result, they consider the world to be violent and mean. They think that it is necessary to be violent too in order to survive in this world. Children do not trust others as far as they do not want to be the victims of violence and they develop protective behavior. The boundaries between the world of the game and reality have become vague for children. They are not mature to identify what is good and what is bad. As a result, children do not understand why they are punished when they commit violence. The development of violent video games increases the child crime rate in the society.
There are a lot of games with the elements of violence and abuse. The most regrettable thing is that violent video games are more popular among children than intellectual ones. Killing people has become interesting for children. It has become a kind of entertainment for them. When a child plays these games and observes how the main character commits different kinds of violence the child wants to imitate him in a real life. According to Walsh’s researches parents are usually not aware of the content of computer games played by their children and it results in irreparable consequences (Walsh, 2000).
More than that, the women are usually presented in these games in quite a humiliating way. The main characters that are so popular among children are usually men. Women are not presented in these games. When they are presented they have another role which is usually sex appeal (Smith, 2006). As far as the ardent gamers are primarily boys their attitude to women is fostered with the help of these games and as a result, these boys having become men treat women in quite a disdainful way.
Video games capture children’s time. As a result, the children ignore their grades and learning and prefer their friends to games. They spend a lot of time playing these games being socially isolated. Their understanding of a real world is misrepresented with violent video games. The gamers are usually so captivated with the game that they “want to stay as far from the real world as possible” (Smith, 2006). As we may observe, violent video games do not foster peaceful citizens of our society. Children playing violent video games think that they live in violent world where violence is not punished.
Positive Influence of Video Games on Children
Nevertheless, there are some positive effects of video games. They are considered to improve “a player’s manual dexterity and computer literacy” (Walsh, 2000). These games develop kids’ imagination and creativity. For example, Pac Man has been among the most popular games enjoyed by children. The aim of this game is to put puzzles. It is necessary to use your brain to play this game. Such kinds of games are considered to be intellectual ones and are approved by parents and educators. Video games are very motivating and develop the kids’ interest in a particular field of knowledge. For example, the video game I Love Math fosters the kids’ interest to this science. There are a lot of other learning games produced by Leap Frog. Leap Frog is famous for development of learning games for children up to ten years old (Smith, 2006). Such learning games develop spatial, visual and iconic attention skills.
Parents’ Control May Decrease the Influence of Video Games
Parents should be very attentive to the choice of games. They may devote time to their children playing video games together. There are a lot of different video games nowadays but not all of them cater for children. Although, the majority of customers buying computer games are children there are games for adults which are strictly prohibited to play by children.
According to the last researches children who are controlled by parents have more success at school than those who spend so much time playing video games as they want. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides recommendations to parents. They consider two hours per day spending before any kind of electronic source to be the norm for an average child (Gentile, 2004). It amounts to fourteen hours per work totally in front of TV or computers. It has been concluded that despite all these warnings children spend nearly 37 hours and even more per week in front of electronic sources.
Parents may prevent their children from the consequences that have been described before in our research. There are a lot of useful tips that may be used by parents to protect their children. The parents should be aware of the content of the video games played by their children and their ratings according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) (Norcia). The best decision is to choose the games for children themselves. Children are not mature to make their own decisions in such cases. The computers should not be situated in children’s bedrooms as far as it will be more difficult to control their actions. Even if parents may buy the video games for their children themselves the internet is one more threat for children as far as on-line video games have become very popular nowadays. Parents should set limits for playing computer games and if this limit is exceeded the children should be punished. Parents should devote time discussing the video games with their children and even playing with them to be sure that these games are not dangerous for their children (Norcia). It is impossible to forbidden to play video games nowadays as far as they are considered to be the most popular kind of entertainment among children. Nevertheless, parents may prevent the negative influence of computer games on their children.
The ESRB as the Main Indicator for the Choice of Computer Games
The ESRB is a special organization founded in 1994 by the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) in order to control the content of video games and decide the groups for which these games cater. This special rating system assesses 1,000 games per year (Norcia). This system takes into account the amount of violence, abuse, sex and inappropriate language used in the game. As a result, the ESRB provides the content description and age limitations to these games. There is the list of particular symbols used in computer games industry nowadays that helps parents as well as children to choose a good video game (Norcia):
- Early Childhood (EC) – these games are for children who are 3 years and older;
- Everyone (E) – these games cater for children of 6 years and older;
- Teen (t) – the content of video games is suitable for children of 13 years and older;
- Mature (M) – the video games for person aged 17 and older:
- Adults Only (AO) – these video games are not suitable for children. This sign may be used as the warning for parents searching games for their children;
The influence of video games depends on a number of facts such as the time devoted to playing video games, the parents’ control, a child’s psychic and health, family conditions and others. From the above said we may conclude that violent video games have a negative influence on children and learning games are quite useful for them to develop their skills. Nevertheless, the abuse of playing computer games influences the health and psychic of children. That is why parents should control their children. This control concerns the time devoted to playing computer games and the choice of these games.
Gentile, David, and C. A. Anderson. Violent video games: The newest media violence hazard. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishing, 2003. Print.
Gentile, Douglas 2004. The effects of video games on children: what parents need to know. Web.
Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit 2000. Web.
Norcia, Andrea n.d. The Impact of Video Games on Children. Web. 2012.
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Smith, Blake 2006. How Do Video Games Affect Kids? Web. 2012.
Walsh, David 2000. “Interactive violence and children.” Testimony submitted to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, United States Senate 21.3 (2000). Print.