Is Gaming Bad For You?

In The United States alone, there are 160 million video game players, and by the age of 21, a typical American has spent 10,000 hours playing computer games (Tassi). Despite video games being so popular, adults are concerned with possible side effects that these games may have on children. Whether it is turning the kid more violent or making the children lazy and unhealthy, parents continue to find reasons to condemn video games. With all of the negative attention video games bring, the majority of the public is uneducated in the social, emotional, physical, and intellectual evidence that supports video games having a positive effect on a child’s life.

When thinking about playing a video game in front of a T.V. screen, most people do not associate having better vision because of this. While it will not repair a person’s vision, it can help a gamer in certain situations. A gamer that plays action games can differentiate shades of greys a lot better than non-gamers. If a gamer is driving in foggy weather, they are more likely to see a car ahead of them than someone who does not play action video games. Another benefit to a gamer’s vision is being able to react, and see strange occurrences while driving. If something happens off to the right of their car, a gamer can spot it a lot easier than someone who does not play video games. A teenager that plays video games is used to constantly looking around and ready to react to anything that they spot.

An obvious benefit that a lot of people overlook is hand-eye coordination and reaction time. A lot of video games rely on a person’s reaction time to complete a task or to improve in an aspect of the game. “Not only does this get them more tuned to how a computer works, but it also helps to develop hand-eye coordination because children have to look at the action on the screen whilst using their hands to control what is happening at the same time.” (teachthought). To have a faster reaction time, a person must continue to improve in a game that requires fast reaction. If a person continues putting out the same score, or doing the same thing over and over again, it will not help. By having better scores or improving in the game, it means that the gamer is learning and overall becoming better at those aspects of the game. For instance, if people are posting better scores in Bejeweled (a gem game that requires a user to see patterns and react to these patterns quickly) than they had before, it means they are spotting patterns better, and faster, thus learning.

Video games are stereotyped as something people do by themselves and have no sort of social interaction. While some games are meant to be played by a single individual, most games are experienced with multitudes of people online, sharing the same gaming experience. By playing online games, it promotes teamwork. Gamers are required to work together to better themselves in the game, which requires being social with other players. In a competitive game, strategy is a vital part in winning the game, and some teammates have to work together for that goal.

While some children enjoy playing video games alone, playing with family is becoming more popular everyday. With systems like the Wii, gaming has become a family event allowing multiple people to play together. Gaming with the family has become even more popular since 2007, as the percentage of parents playing computer games with their children has increased from 36% to 45% and is growing(ABC). “Families that embrace playing video games as part of their everyday life are likely to find themselves enjoying a greater sense of cohesion and communication than families who still view video games as an idle, meaningless and solitary pursuit,” (ABC).

Video games are more complicated and creative than ever. While video game stories are appealing to the younger audiences, they are nearly all complicated problems that the gamer must solve. If you fail certain missions in the game, you would have to do it over again and devise a new plan. This type of gaming is making the player decide between different strategic alternatives and overall develop their problem solving skills.

A higher sense of creativity is one of the most obvious traits that gamers possess. A study showed that kids that played video games scored 23% higher in creative tests involving tasks such as writing stories and drawing pictures (tassi). A lot of games explore the players creative side as they are open world and allows the creator to do and make whatever they want. Games such as Minecraft have become a platform for players to be as creative as possible. It allows for gamers to create massive cities with organizational purposes (buying equipement, plots of lands), recreating massive structures, and using their imagination to create whatever they want.

Gaming has also been proven to boost a person’s ability to multitask. While balancing many different aspects in the game, it can transition into real life. “Other carefully-designed studies have also shown that action video games can improve several aspects of brain activity, including multitasking. According to studies by Daphne Bavelier, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, video gamers show real-world improvements on tests of attention, accuracy, vision and multitasking after playing certain titles,” (ABC).

There are a few negative effective that a lot of people focus on. One of the main complaints about video games is that they are too violent. Many parents are under the impression that a child playing too many violent video games will make them a more violent person. While some video games do take violence to the extreme, the video game industry only allows 18+ purchase those games. The children would not be able to purchase these games unless accompanied by an adult. So while these video games can be violent, it is up to the parent to monitor what their child is playing.

Another problem that arises is that some people are addicted to gaming or find themselves playing too much video games. Just like anything else, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. A healthy amount of video games per week is between 5-15 hours. Kids need a good balance between gameplay time and other activities. Playing video games for an overextended period of time can really cause problems in the child and some warning signs may arise.

One of the other knocks on gaming is that it is what lazy people do and it will make kids become obese. The stereotype is that most children who play video games are out of shape. Within the last decade, video games have done a good job on countering this with the Wii and other games that require movement of your body. Some of the main games are rock band, Dancing games, Wii Fit, etc. They allow for the child to have fun while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. According to ABC’s article, “While many shy away from exercise because they see it as an activity that isn’t enjoyable, organizations like the American Heart Association now cite, and even recommend, video games as a fun and entertaining way to enjoy physical activity,” (ABC).

There are a few things that need to be done to promote video games in a safe, and healthy way. These steps are mostly on the shoulders of the parents to watch/play video games with their children, control the type of games they are playing, and limit the amount of time they spend on a console. Some parents use video games as sort of a babysitter and can spend time away from them while the child is divulged into the T.V. A better answer to this is for the parents to be active in their child’s video game lifestyle and being able to better understand what he enjoys and why he enjoys playing these games. It is a big step into families understanding how certain games are a great resource for learning for a younger child.

Video games have many different types of benefits for younger games. Depending on how these games are managed by parents or other adult figures, they can really be a great influence on a child’s life. Video games are a thing of the future, as they will continue to develop and be a bigger part of a person’s life, as the average age of a gamer is 3o years old (Plunkett). With an array of genres to choose from for casual to competitive gamers, everybody can find one that they can enjoy. There are plenty of reasons to try one.

There are many other benefits that I did not focus on in this article. What are some of the effects that video games have on your life?

Sources
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Plunkett, Luke. “The Average Age of a “Gamer” Just Dropped by Seven Years. Um, What?” Kotaku. Gawker, 2 Aug. 2012. Web. 28 June 2013.
Robertson, Andy. “TED Blog.” TED Blog Finding the Meaning in Video Games Yes They Have Value beyond Entertainment Andselfimprovement Comments. TED, 5 Dec. 2012. Web. 28 June 2013.
Tassi, Paul. “The Social Benefits of Video Games.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 22 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 June 2013.
Torgovnick, Kate. “TED Blog.” TED Blog 7 Talks on the Benefits Ofgaming Comments. TED, 19 Nov. 2012. Web. 28 June 2013.
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the author

Ryan Elliott is a 22 year old student working on a Journalism & Mass Communication Degree at Iowa State University. I play so many video games that my thumbs have six packs. I usually get my game on to Call of Duty, sport games, League of Legends, or any other game that floats my boat. Feel free to get to know me even better on Youtube.com/tangytoddler and @tangytoddler

  • Nojus Sustumas

    This is such BS!…